Friday, 11 May 2012

Model Wonders: Part 2

Some months ago, I wrote and posted photos of the model collection I had been accumulating along the way of my travels. I have decided, wherever possible, to buy a memento of each Wonder I visit, ideally in the form of a miniature replica. This is not at all a practical way to travel, as it meant by the time I was leaving China, I was laden with a whole extra bag exclusively for the acquired models, but now that I am home it means I have a delightful - and not at all tacky! - collection of model Wonders.

During the second half of my travels, I got a little carried away, and not only bought models of official Wonders, but bought models of unofficial ones too. I'll focus on the unofficial ones in a future post; for now, let's concentrate on the models of all my Wonders during India and China in the first four months of this year.

The Golden Temple

I am very pleased with this one. Arriving in Amritsar, I really doubted whether it would be possible to buy a model of the Sikh holy temple at the heart of it. After all, is it really the done thing to replicate sacred sites as tacky models? Of course it is!

Yes, my model of the Golden Temple glows red and green when plugged in. Finding it was easy - a shop within the temple complex itself was selling all kind of Golden Temple souvenirs, and this was certainly their finest. It was a bargain, a mere £5.

Burness had a memorable introduction to the model. He had just returned from two weeks of excess and debauchery in Scotland over Christmas, and was in a process of deep recovery by the time we'd arrived in Amritsar. I'd gone out that morning, leaving him to recover in the dark pit of our room. Upon buying the model, I crept back into the room, Burness still asleep, and plugged in the model, watching with joy as it flashed red and green. And I went out again - leaving the Golden Temple model plugged in. Burness says he later woke in a confused haze, with the room flashing in disco colours, thinking he was hallucinating before finally figuring out the source of the strange lights.


They said it couldn't be done! Through the mean streets of Delhi, I hunted and hunted for a model of Akshardham, asking touts and shopkeepers alike. All told me - there's no such thing. And perhaps they're right, perhaps within Delhi itself this modern Hindu sect temple has no miniature replications. But online, ah, that's a different story. For about £30, including postage and packaging, I bought this dinky and glitzy little thing from Australia.

On the streets of Delhi, I had to console myself with a couple of fridge magnets, at about £1 each after haggling. Even they took a bit of finding though.

Taj Mahal

Seeing as I got engaged there, I wanted to find a decent model of the Taj Mahal. Fortunately, in Agra, this was not a problem: miniature Taj Mahals are everywhere. I was spoilt for choice, but ended up opting for a pretty large one that could disassemble and pack neatly into a box. This cost me something like £4 in the end, which is a bargain, and was the result of some of my finest haggling to date, involving going into the shop on three occasions during the day under the pretext of looking for something else and only being interested in the Taj Mahal model in the passing. Mind you, it's pretty easy haggling for a model of the Taj Mahal when every shop in the city sells them...

Agra Fort

Agra Fort on the other hand... wow, who would have thought getting any kind of physical representation of Agra Fort in the city of Agra would be so difficult? A million Taj Mahals, apparently zero Agra Forts. I hunted and hunted, and couldn't even get a fridge magnet. One shop had hundreds of magnets of all kinds of Indian buildings, but not the one in their home city. I even spent time negotiating with a craftsman about him building me a model, and we'd agreed a theoretical price of around £80 for a large stone model. In the end I decided against this, as I was leaving Agra that day and the practicalities of getting it were just too impossible.

In fact, I'd given up as I visited Agra Fort for the second time, just a few hours before leaving the city - and there on a small stall was a fridge magnet. Amazing! I'd been told there was no such thing, and perhaps I own the only one in existence. The stall owner could see the desire in my eyes and ripped me off for £2.50, but I don't care.

The Lotus Temple

The Lotus Temple, being a significant religious building of a fairly serious-minded religion, was another I very much doubted I would have much luck with. Delhi touts and shopkeepers told me no such model existed. But to my surprise, in the official giftshop of the Lots Temple itself, there it was - a cheap, plastic model for about £5. And, like the Golden Temple, it plugs in, giving a satisfying blue glow.

Kailash Temple in Ellora

[no picture]

My first failure. Sure, I got a set of postcards as a consolation, but I couldn't be bothered taking a photo of them here. The small village next to Ellora just didn't have anything. Plenty of Buddha models and suchlike, but no temple ones, or even fridge magnets. Unfortunately, I timed my hunting for a Sunday when most things seemed to be closed, but I don't think I'd have had much luck anyway.

Perhaps I should have given a full hunt in the neighbouring city of Aurangabad. Perhaps my Ellora model is out there somewhere...

The Forbidden City

Well, it's getting there. Despite the grounds of the Forbidden City having endless souvenir shops, I couldn't find any models of the Forbidden City or any of its main buildings. There were models of the Gate of Heavenly Peace around, but that's not technically part of the Forbidden City.

Fortunately, I found some cardboard versions that you need to cut out and glue - I got a Hall of Supreme Harmony one and another featuring most of the main buildings, for something like £3. I've made a start, but haven't found the enthusiasm to finish quite yet.

The Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China - easy. I went to various sections, and had a large choice of stalls and models. I could have bought some pretty big models, but for backpack reasons went for dinky ones in all but one case. Total cost, perhaps £15.

In fact, the larger one took a bit of a beating in the journey home, with one whole side disintegrating. Careful jigsaw-puzzle gluing has put it back together.

The Terracotta Warriors

Another very easy one - there's an entire purpose built tourist village surrounding the Terracotta Warrior site. I paid £8 for this one, but would definitely have got it cheaper had I shopped around more - the lady started at £20! It originally came in a protective glass case, but this immediately got smashed, so I'm leaving them open to the elements. On the journey back home, a whole bunch of warriors also got broken, but something carefully-done gluing put them all back together. Just like the real thing.

The Leshan Giant Buddha

What a beautiful ornament! This was sold by the harbour for about £5 - the guy selling wasn't interested in haggling and only came down by a £1. There were other Leshan Buddha models there, but they were either done in wood, or featured only the Buddha - I liked this one as it was in colour and featured the surroundings.

The Three Gorges Dam

Actual models of the dam don't appear to exist, but on the boat cruise, at just £2, was this cube-on-a-stand, with three faces showing images of the dam. It got a little damaged on the flight home - what were these baggage handlers doing to my bag? - and so far has resisted a successful fixing, but I'll get there.

That's all the official ones for now. I intend, eventually, to have these all displayed, for guests to pore over at their undoubted pleasure. For now - and I regard this as a triumph of negotiation - Danielle has agreed to let me put them on her window shelves. Here they are, in all their glory.

1 comment:

  1. Can I please know how to get the miniature model of Lotus temple and what will be the cost. Please notify me at


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