Location: Jaipur in Rajasthan, India.
Built By: Sawai Jai Singh II in 1716 AD.
Highlight: Astronomical Observatory Instruments.
When To Visit: October-March
Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
In Jaipur, the capital and gateway to Rajasthan, you will find one of the most precious and culturally non aligned pieces of architecture in the world. A perfect amalgamation of religion and science, the observatory, still in its own unsecularized integrity, is comparable only with the witnesses in stone of the archaic cultures. Jantar Mantar is a famous astronomical monument. As with all other observatories around the country built by Sawai Jai Singh, the one in Jaipur, is a lucid reflection of his belief in the importance of astronomy and passion for architecture. Whether or not you are interested in stars, this place is worth a visit for its pure architectural splendor. Often described as the most surreal and logical landscape in stone, this bewildering piece of art brings curves, corners, colors and the cosmos, all in one complex.
In 1719, in the public courtroom of the Red Fort, Delhi,
emperor Mohammad Shah and Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II were witness to a
court debate. The discussion was extremely vivacious and was related to
certain astronomical calculations. The emperor was to leave for a long
expedition and the best day for departure had already been decided on. The
controversy was upstaged because of the positions of certain planets,
which were supposed to influence the life on ground. No astronomical
observatory existed at that time to check the mentioned calculations. The
debate finished in an inconclusive way, but buried an idea in the mind of
the Amber Maharajah. Sawai Jai Sîngh II, who had studied and
possessed good knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, decided to build
astronomical observatories across the state.
Starting in 1724, the first observatory was completed in Delhi, the place where the controversy had begun regarding planetary positions. Thus, India with her ancient root of astronomy, began to appreciate precise instruments of masonry and massive stone. Being a passionate student of astronomy, Jai Singh often spent hours among these colossal structures, talking with these apparently silent creations.
Jantar means 'instrument' while Mantar (the same word as
'mantra') is usually translated as 'formula' but here it means
'calculation'. So, "Jantar Mantar" means something like '
instrument for calculation.' The observatory consists of elephantine stone
observation devices, which get a good degree of accuracy due to their
enormous dimensions. It is the biggest of the five observatories, which
Jai Singh II had built. The majority of the devices are typical for big
observatories in the Islamic world. But his instruments are unique as
concerns precision, size and architectural perfection. At least, 120 years
after the invention of the telescope, they still provide amazing results.
At first glance, this famous Astronomical monument of Jaipur appears to be a curious if somewhat compelling collection of sculptures. In fact, each construction has a specific purpose, for example measuring the positions of the stars, altitude and azimuth, and calculating eclipses. With these creations, Sawai Jai Singh II made studying astronomy and astrology easier. His observatories were used as laboratories, where one could test oneself on various calculations and check them by practical observations. Formerly, these observatories were used to accommodate academic seminars, conferences, discussions, and, especially, to prepare zodiac charts and almanacs.
Over 90 feet in height, the big sundial (Brihat Samrat Yantra) is the most impressive and the largest structure. The ramp that forms the indicator is orientated to the north at 27 degrees, gradient equivalent to the latitude of Jaipur. Thus the ramp points exactly to the Celestial North Pole. The wing shaped scales are made of marble as the side edges of the indicator are covered with delicate measuring divisions. According to the size and architectural precision, the shadow shows the local time accurate within four minutes. Using a sighting stick accuracy lies within seconds! It is still used by astrologers today and acts as a cynosure for them during the full moon days of June and July, when the instrument is used to predict the monsoon rains, and subsequent success or failure of crops.
Horoscopes have played, and still play a copious role in Indian life, so it is not at all surprising to find here a separate structure for each of the 12 signs of the zodiac. Someone dexterous in taking the readings, can ascertain the position of the dominant planet with respect to earth and the sun, and if supplied with such information as the exact local time at the moment of birth of the subject, the astrologer can chart a unabridged horoscope. The scales are also devised to allow calculation of each person's most auspicious time of the day. This magnificent structure surely amalgamates learning and playing and you can enjoy the vivacity in these astronomical domains while still looking for your "most auspicious time of the day"! Take a tour of Jantar Mantar to see the historical monument of Rajasthan
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is open daily from 9 am till 4.30 pm. Camera is allowed inside but you have to bestow a little cash for the usage. Those interested in the theory behind the construction of these monumental splendors should try to hunt out " A Guide to the Jaipur Astronomical Observatory" by B.L.Dhama. Well connected to all major cities of the country and with a domestic airport in the terrain, Jantar Mantar is accessible from all corners of Jaipur. Get a taxi or a private cab from the airport that will fetch you directly to the observatory. However, you can also look for more economical modes of transport by hiring an auto rickshaw or a paddle one.
Top 5 Reasons To Visit Jantar Mantar
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