Jai Singh II's most original astronomical device at Jantar Mantar, and perhaps also the most challenging in terms of construction, is clearly the Jai Praksh Yantra, a pair of hemispheres made from marble and capable of determining both the ecliptic pole during the day and the celestial coordinates at night. There is cross of wires the axis of which during the day casts a small shadow on the 4 meter wide hemisphere below, providing the ecliptic pole. At night a special sighting tube is placed in the wire set-up, and the view climbs under the hemispheres to view the celestrial body. The reason two hemispheres were constructed was for continuous observations throughout the day and night. Another device of interest is the round shaped double equatorial sundial. Among the other devices, the big astrolabe is interesting in part because it is made from a special alloy of seven metals that Jai Singh II developed to overcome the problem of expansion and contraction of the device, due to hot and cold temperatures, day and night. The astrolabe, a device already well known to mariners, is a star chart engraved in a metal disc. Similar to a slide rule in operation, moveable rulers calculate the rising and setting points of celestial bodies. With a sighting tube the zenith distance of a star can be determined as well. At Jantar Mantar, there are several such fixed devices that require less precise operation but nevertheless, due to their larger size, produce more satisfactory results and accuracy. Standard astrolabes are between 30 and 50 cm in diameter while the astrolabe of Jai Singh is a huge two metres in diameter. There's also an interesting device that resembles, but with much greater accuracy, the effects of Stonehenge, upright stone pillars that cast shadows over a complex of precisely constructed marble vectors. See the link below for a more in depth explanation of the construction and purpose of devices at Jantar Mantar.
Bhaggi Khana is a museum in the palace complex where a collection of old carriages, palanquins and European cabs adopted as baggis to Indian situations are on display here. The baggi which attracts attention is the one gifted by Prince of Wales to the Maharaja in 1876, called the Victoria baggi. Also on display here are the mahadol, a palanquin with a single bamboo bar that was used to carry the priests and a ratha (chariot) that was used for carrying the idols of Hindu gods in procession on festive occasions.
Many of the carriages are fixed with Muzzle loading hunting guns!
The Jantar mantra is one of the most fascinating structures I have ever seen. The sun dials, zodiac dials etc built with remarkable precision leave one astounded.
Don't hesitate to hire a guide. Guides cost 200 for 2 to 4 persons.
There is a nominal charge for entrance
Jantar (from ‘jyantra’, instrument) Mantar (from ‘mantra’, magic formula, calculation), therefore, ‘instrument for calculation’, is the fourth open-air observatory built by the redoubtable Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, after the ones in Delhi, Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura. It is part and parcel of the City Palace and the Hawa Mahal, thus enabling the Maharaja easy access to either scientific pursuits (Jantar Mantar) or pious pursuits (Hawa Mahal). It is the world’s largest stone observatory. It was built between 1727 and 1734.
These colossal structures, precisely owing to their sheer size, could be read by the Maharaja and his advisors to give precise information regarding the earth’s movements, the time of the day and even, monsoon forecasts. The Samrat Yantra is a huge sun dial; the Yantra Raj is used to determine the position of the Pole Star; and, the Rashivalaya Yantra was consulted to make a person’s horoscope. It is wise to take the services of a guide here else, to a layman, these giant structures will be just that only, mere structures.
To fully appreciate the concept of time passing, never to return, visit the Samrat Yantra and watch the shadow move roughly 6 cms every minute. It may remind you of the ancient proverb, ‘Time and tide wait for no man’. You may just come back shaken.
First Written: Apr. 4, 2012
One of most bizarre sites in Jaipur, this open space with unusual geometric and curvy shapes is an astronomical observatory. It is known as Jantar Mantar, which translates to "instrument of calculation," and is one of five around Northern India built by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber-Jaipur who was passionate about astronomy. The one in Jaipur was commissioned in 1728 and is the largest and best preserved of the five. The odd-looking sculptures were used not only to observe the stars, but also to tell the time and predict the monsoon. Hiring a guide at Jantar Mantar is highly recommended for a better understanding of each instrument. Bring your camera for some great photo opportunities!
For additional photos, check out my travelogue: "Jantar Mantar".
UPDATE: In 2010 (after my visit), Jantar Mantar of Jaipur was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Maharaja Jai Singh II (founder of Jaipur) was (as well as a warrior) an astronomer. Jai Singh II built a total of 5 observatories with this one, the Jaipur Jantar Mantar, being erected in 1728.
There are a total of 15 geometric (time) measuring devices here which can predict eclipses, track the stars etc... Each devices is made from the local stone and the tallest one, the Samrat Jantar, stands at a massive 90 ft.
Jantar Mantar was restored in 1901 and declared a national monument in 1948.
It is a popular place to visit yet remains peaceful. Remarkable and worth visiting.
The Jantar Mantar is the largest stone astronomical observatory in the world. It was built by Maharaja Jai Sawai Singh between 1727 and 1733.
The observatory has 13 different instruments for calculating the movement of celestrial bodies each with a different purpose including measuring the positions of the stars and calculating time. One of the most interesting and most visited is the Birhat Samrat Yantra sundial. Another instrument is the Yantra Raj, a multipurpose instrument which can help determine the positions of constellations and can calculate the Hindu calendar.
I thought one of the most interesting were the yellow Rashi Yantras. Each rashi/individual instrument represents one of the 12 zodiac signs. The gradient of each differs according to the particular sign and its postion in relation to the path that the sun appears to follow across the sky over the course of a year.
Most of the sculptures were so interesting – with great lines and curves and I enjoyed photographing them. If you're at the City Place walk over and check out the Jantar Mantar. You can spend about an hour here.
Admission is Rs 10, additional fee for cameras.
Jantar Mantar is only one of the 5 astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Sawi Singh in Jaipur. Initially named as Yantra Mantra meaning Instruments & Formulae, the name changed by mispronunciation. It is wholly constructed in stone and marble, we were amazed by how much more people maintained knowledge of the celestial bodies in the past. It has been renovated and is maintained very well unlike most other tourist attractions in Jaipur
Jantar Mantar at Jaipur is the largest astronomical stone observatory in the World. It was built between 1727 to 1733 by built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. Originally it was named as Yantra Mantra (which means instruments and formulae) but due to mispronunciation of the same the name got changed to the Jantar Mantar. Despite its age, it still provides accurate information about celestial bodies and can be well compared with modern instruments. It is constructed with stone and marble. The observatory measures time, predicts eclipses and other astronomical events. Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument of India in 1948. It is right in front of the City Palace entrance.
Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the Rajput ruler of Amber and the founder of Jaipur was a learned man and an astronomer who was deeply interested in the workings of the celestial bodies and so built the Observatory, known as Jantar Mantar. The name 'Jantar Mantar' comes from Sanskrit's 'Yantra Mantra' meaning instruments and formulae.
Sawai Jai Singh II was commissioned by Emperor Muhammad Shah, to make corrections in the astronomical tables and to confirm the data, already available on the planetary positions. Sawai Jai Singh II took seven years to finish the task. He built the first stone observatory in 1724 in Delhi. The Jaipur observatory was built in 1728. There is actually a fascinating story in relation to the construction of the Observatory. According to the story, Sawai Jai Singh II sent his envoys to various parts of the world. The emissaries came back with manuals and astronomical tables besides tons of data on the advances made in the fields of astronomy. La Hire's "Tables" was one of these manuals, and impressed by it, Sawai Jai Sing II ordered the observatory to be constructed according to the data available in this manual. Amazingly, after Jantar Mantar was built, it was discovered that the Observatory was more accurate than the Table itself.
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