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Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur: An Astronomical Wonder

Jantar Mantar in Jaipur (A UNESCO heritage site) is one of the five observatory monuments built by Maharaja Jai Singh in early 18th century, other four being at Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Varanasi. Located right in the center, next to the City Palace, this is the biggest observatory in India with around 20 instruments. You will be amazed to see the monumental astronomical instruments (some being the largest in their category) and the simplicity through which they have been designed to provide astronomical insights even with naked eyes.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
Sundial at the observatory is considered to be the largest

On one fine Saturday morning, we decided to visit Jantar Mantar (Jantar means instruments and Mantar means calculation) as we were in Jaipur during our Diwali vacation. It is a beautifully maintained small complex with yellow painted walls. Despite compound bustling with tourists and children (being a long weekend), we could easily navigate around and see instruments. To understand the working of all the instruments, we hired a guide (charges: INR 200 up to 4 people). Within next 45 minutes, our guide walked with us from one instrument to another as he explained us the working of each one of them. It is recommended to hire a guide as it will be difficult to understand the functioning of these instruments by self.

Astronomical Instruments at Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

Very first instrument is Nadivalaya (Circular Dial) with two circular plates facing North and South. Shadow of the rod fixed at the center (as shown in below picture) moves on the dial with change in sun’s position indicating the local time. By adding a correction factor (as displayed at the observatory), you can easily get the local time by looking at the shadow of the rod.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
Our guide explaining us the working of astronomical instruments

Just next to Nadivalaya is another instrument Vrihat Samrat Yantra. This is a small sundial that can give time up to an accuracy of 2 seconds. The shadow of the triangular wall moves on the semicircular arc (with change in sun’s position) to show the time through markings on the semicircular arc.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism, Sundial
Vrihant Samrat Yantra: A sundial that shows the time through shadow

As we moved next, we found two adjacent hemispheres which show sun’s position in different rashis. This is used to prepare horoscopes by astrologers. Our guide was quick to explain us the way to see the shadow of a hanging metal piece on the marble and identify the house sun is in currently.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
Jaya Prakash Yantra to find the house (Rashi) in which Sun currently is in

There is another  beautiful monument on the right hand side in the form of emerging rays. This shows the latitude and longitude of Jaipur on its walls, as shadow of a central rod falls on the circular wall. Open space facilitate the movement to record the exact readings.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
Beautiful monumental instrument to measure the latitude and longitude

At the far left end, you will see a magnanimous sundial (largest of all of Jai Singh’s instruments). A huge triangular wall rises up right in front of you as its shadow falls on a large semicircular arc. It is so big that people roaming around look really dwarf in front of this Sundial.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
You will be spellbound seeing such a huge Sundial

Its huge walls, all painted with yellow, also give you a chance to capture some shots with pigeons flying around with a stunning  yellow and blue background.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
Sundial wall at Jantar Mantar Jaipur

 

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
Across the walls of Jantar Mantar

 

Jantar Mantar Jaipur - Oldest Observatory in India, built by Maharaja Jai Singh: Rajasthan Tourism
Spiral Stairs: Looks like a maze within a simple sundial

Happy Exploration !!

Entry Time: 9 AM to 5 PM (All days open). You may also attend the Sound & Light show which is organized every evening (6:30 PM onwards) both in Hindi & English

Location: Next to city palace. Google Map Directions 

Travel Date: 29th October 2016

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