Jantar Mantar of Jaipur in Rajasthan is the biggest stone observatory in the world, which is still in a running condition and stands witness to the wisdom of the former age. Jantar Mantar of Jaipur in Rajasthan is one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur of Rajasthan and is located close to the gate of the famous City Palace of Jaipur of Rajasthan. The Jantar Mantar at Jaipur of Rajasthan was conceived as a quest for discovering the mysteries of the Cosmos. It was built not only to verify astronomical observations made at Jaipur of Rajasthan, but also to stimulate interest in astronomy, which had become enmeshed in theory, superstition and religious jargon. During the period between 1727 and 1733, Jantar Mantar of Rajasthan took its form and structure.
The Man has always been fascinated by the Universe and the Cosmos. With every passing year we think we have come closer to unfolding the secrets of the dark skies. But just as we think we are close to discovering the key or the knowledge, we realize we haven't even crossed the threshold yet. Even our ancestors and the people before us, could not resist the temptation and made attempts to learn more about the mysteries of Time and Space.
Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the Rajput ruler of Amber of Rajasthan and the founder of Jaipur in Rajasthan 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 of Rajasthan. It is modeled after the one that he had built for him at the then Mughal capital of Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such labs at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur of Rajasthan. The Jaipur of Rajasthan observatory is the largest of these. The name is derived from yantra, instrument, and mantra, for chanting; hence the 'the chanting instrument'. It is sometimes said to have been originally yantra mantra, mantra being translated as formula, although there is limited justification for this since in traditional spoken Jaipur language, the locals obfuscate the written 'Y' syllable as 'J'.
Legend and History of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, Rajasthan
India, in the early decades of the 18th century was a land to turmoil, the Mughal empire was collapsing, its chiefs were busy in internal quarrels, and the Marathas, Portuguese, British, French and Dutch were fighting for the over lordship of India's trade and political fortunes. In this age arose a brilliant star on India's political and intellectual horizon - Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, Rajput ruler of Amber, founder of Jaipur, a great builder and ruler and an exceptional astronomer.
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 of Rajasthan 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 of Rajasthan was built, it was discovered that the Observatory was more accurate than the Table itself. Apart from being a permanent memorial to his genius, it secured for him a place along with such distinguished observatory builders like Prince Ulugh Beg, Tycho Brahe and John Flam Steed.
Jantar Mantar, the Observatory in Jaipur of Rajasthan
The Jantar Mantar of Rajasthan is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja Jai Singh II at his then new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1733. The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemeredes. Each is a fixed and 'focused' tool. The Samrat Jantar, the largest instrument, is 90 feet high, its shadow carefully plotted to tell the time of day. Its face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur. The Hindu chhatri (small domed cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons.
Built of local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining; bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed. Jai Singh had the choice of constructing the observatory either with metal instruments or masonry instruments. The metal instruments, constructed according to the texts of the Islamic school of astronomy, did not measure up to Jai Singh's expectations. He discarded them in favor of the instruments of stone and masonry that he himself designed.
The instruments are in most cases huge structures. They are built on a large scale so that accuracy of readings can be obtained. An excursion through Jai Singh's Jantar is the singular one of walking through solid geometry and encountering a collective weapons system designed to probe the heavens. Amongst all the instruments, the Sundial usually attracts the maximum attention of people, which tells the time to an accuracy of about two seconds in local time of Jaipur of Rajasthan. It is considered the largest sundial in the world. Jantar Mantar was carefully renovated in 1901 and was declared a national monument in 1948. Today the main purpose of the observatory is to function as a tourist attraction.
Some of the geometric devices used in the observatory of Jantar Mantar of Rajasthan are mentioned below.
Samrat Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
Samrat Yantra consists of a massive triangle with a curved structure on both sides. The Samrat Yantra is a large sundial that looks like a triangular structure and is marked with hours and minutes. The arc at the left shows the time from sunrise to midday while the arc at the right side shows the time from midday to sunset. The time is read by observing where the shadow is sharpest at the time. The sundials have been constructed on latitude 27o north and to adjust the reading to the Indian standard Time (IST), one has to add anything between 1 minute 15 seconds to 32 minutes according to the time of year and solar position.
Ram Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
It is an instrument used to indicate the altitude and the azimuth or declination of celestial bodies.
Jai Prakash Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
It is used to find out the positions of the celestial bodies during days and nights. It is a two hemispherical bowl structure, which represents the celestial sphere and there is a vertical rod in the center.
Dhruva Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
The Dhruva Yantra is used to locate the position of 12 Zodiac signs and also the Pole Star at night. The traditional unit of measurement started with the smallest unit being 'human breath' that has been calculated to be of 6 seconds duration. According to this scale, 4 breaths or 24 seconds equals 1 pal, 60 pals or 24 minutes equals 1 ghadi and 60 ghadis or 24 hours equals 1 day.
Narivalya Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
The Narivalya Yantra is a distinctive sundial with two dials - the first dial facing south reads time when the sun is in the southern hemisphere, i.e., from 21 September to 21 March and the other one facing north reads time for the rest of the year when the sun is in the northern hemisphere, i.e., from 21 March to 21 September.
Kranti Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
Kranti Yantra is used for direct measurement of the longitude and latitude of the extraterrestrial bodies.
Raj Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
Raj Yantra or the King of Instruments was used only once a year to calculate the Hindu calendar.
Unnsyhsmsa Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
Unnsyhsmsa yantra was used for finding the altitudes of the heavenly bodies.
Chakra Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
The Chakra yantra gives the angle of an object from the equator.
Disha Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
Disha yantra or the compass always points to the north.
Dakshina Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
Dakshina yantra was used for observing the position and movement of heavenly bodies when passing over the meridian.
Large Samrat Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
The Large Samrat Yantra is ten times larger than the Samrat Yanta and ten times more accurate too. It is accurate down to 2 seconds and is also used to predict the length and heaviness of the monsoon for the local area.
Rashivalayas Yantra of Jantar Mantar in Rajasthan
The Rashivalayas Yantra has 12 sundials for the signs of the zodiac while Jai Prakash Yantra acts as a double check on all the other instruments.
Location and Transport
The city of Jaipur of Rajasthan is easily accessible from the major cities of India, so reaching Jaipur of Rajasthan is not difficult at all. Jaipur of Rajasthan is well-connected by rail, road and air. Jaipur of Rajasthan has a brilliant road network making it easier for people to travel.
Jaipur of Rajasthan is connected to Delhi (300Km), Mumbai, Udaipur of Rajasthan, Jodhpur of Rajasthan, Aurangabad, Calcutta and Varanasi by domestic flights.
The train service to Jaipur of Rajasthan is available from all the major parts of the country.
Jaipur of Rajasthan can be accessed from all the major places in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Mumbai by bus. Jaipur is well connected by road to major cities in India. Excellent road network serves people to enjoy a comfortable journey to and from Jaipur of Rajasthan. This mode of traveling is quite easy and comparatively cheap. Regular bus services from nearby cities connect Jaipur of Rajasthan to the other cities. Deluxe Buses, AC coaches and Government buses are available for the convenience of the passengers.
Location: Just next to the entrance of City Palace of Jaipur in Rajasthan
Built by: Maharaja Jai Sawai Singh
Built in: Between 1727 and 1733
Highlights: Largest Stone Astronomical Observatory in the World
How to reach: One can easily reach Jantar Mantar of Rajasthan from the city by taking local Buses, Rickshaws and Taxis