The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments (or observatory), built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh. In total he constructed five such collections of instruments across India, the Jantar Mantar is the best preserved.
The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric structures for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking star locations as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declination of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides.
Visiting this place is a bit of a surreal experience, nothing else quite like it exists anywhere in the world and the strange shapes and lines makes it a challenge to sufficiently photograph. I was also hampered by a lack of sunlight to cast both light and the all important shadows. So unfortunately this collection of photos is not what I would have hoped for.
The instruments are in most cases huge structures, which it is believed increases their accuracy. The Giant Sundial, known as the Samrat Yantra (The Supreme Instrument) is one of the world’s largest sundials, standing 27 meters tall. Its shadow moves visibly at 1 mm per second, or roughly a hand’s breadth (6 cm) every minute.
Its face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur. The Hindu chhatri (small cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons.
To this day the observatory is used by astrologers to calculate the dates for weddings. Students of astronomy and Vedic astrology are required to take lessons at the observatory,some consider the observatory to be the the single most representative work of Vedic thought that still survives (apart from the scriptures).
Having walked around the Jantar Mahal for an hour or so, you may decide to indulge in some street food opposite the entrance. I can highly recommend these, the largest Poppadoms known to mankind… 🙂
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