Astronomical Wonder: Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

The Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations.

This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. The observatory was a meeting point for different scientific cultures, and gave rise to widespread social practices linked to cosmology. It was also a symbol of royal authority, through its urban dimensions, its control of time, and its rational and astrological forecasting capacities. Here is a virtual tour…

View from entrance of the giant sundial with the iconic Hawa Mahal visible in the far background.

Stairs leading to the observatory deck to view movement of celestial bodies.

The scale of size of the instruments can be judged in comparison to the tree here!

Looking through the wall of the giant sundial, its upper edge camouflaging stairs leading to the chattri at the top end.

Winged stairs leading to the lower observatory of the giant sundial.

One half of the Jai Prakash Yantras that tell time at odd and even hours respectively. Evidently a rather unwieldy watch!

The Narivalaya Yantra measures the local solar time at Jaipur. This is one of paired instruments that tells the time in winter, when the sun is in the southern hemisphere.

Curious visitors!

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