Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar at Jaipur is the largest historic observatory and the oldest in India, built by Maharaja (maharaja meaning King) Jai Singh II at his then new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734, The entire building is made of local stone and marble.

Maharaja Jai Singh II was a fanatical astronomer himself who studied various works from Hindu, Muslim and European astronomy.

It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List as an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.

It is a remarkable structure which consists of fourteen geometric devices used for measuring time, forecasting weather changes, predicting behaviour of planets and finding extraterrestrial altitude. All these devices are fixed structures and point to a specific direction. The largest device or instrument is the Samrat Yantra which is 90 feet high and its shadow is plotted in such a manner so that is shows the exact time of the day. Any weather change or the onset of monsoons can be ascertained by the Hindu Chatri, which is a small domed structure.

Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948. Some of the major instruments at Jantar Mantar are:
  • The Samrat Yantra 'Prince of Dials' (the largest device)
  • The Ram Yantra - two circular buildings
  • The Jai Prakash
  • The Misra Yantra (north-west to the Samrat Yantra)
  • Pillars on the southwest of Mishra Yantra used to measure the shortest and longest days of the year.

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