Jantar Mantar literally means “instruments for measuring the heavens” and indeed, what an outstanding testimony of the scientific and technical conceptions of time and space it is!
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is the largest, best preserved, fully functional and most complete of the five observatories built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and boasts of being in possession of the world’s largest sundial called “Samrat Yantra”. This UNESCO World heritage site is truly a fascinating progressive observatory housing architectural and astrological instruments that have captured the interests of astronomers, historians and architects around the world.
The observatory built for the study of space and time is unique in its understanding of astronomical data, precision, innovation in architecture and comprehensive in the observation of cosmological concepts. One marvels at the sheer brilliance and ingenuity of its creator. A must visit for those who love to explore the magic and mysteries of the heavenly worlds.
These are some of the instruments seen here built in stone, marble and bronze.
Vrihat Smarat Yantra – a sundial that can give the local time to an accuracy of 2 seconds.
Laghu Smarat Yantra – smaller in size and calculates time up to the accuracy of twenty seconds.
Ram Yantra – measures elevation and azimuth of Sun and planets
Jayaprakasha Yantra – detects the elevation, azimuth, hour angles and exact position of heavenly bodies
Chakra Yantra – calculates the co-ordinates and the hour angle of Sun
Digamsa – predicts the sunrise and sunset timings in a day
Nadivalaya – The nadivalaya has two circular plates facing north and south which are its dials. The wall of the plates is inclined towards the south at such an angle that the instrument remains parallel to the plane of the equator.
Kranti Vritta – used to measure the solar sign of the Sun in the daytime
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
Photos by Lakshmi Subramanian