Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory
Janta Mantar, a Jaipur park for the space-and-time-inclined, was built in the early 1700s by the Maharaja Singh. The UNESCO World Heritage site, located in the old city, contains 20 large stone astronomical instruments designed to assist scientists who were observing the heavens with their bare eyes. The huge tools monitor celestial happenings and are still in used today for agricultural predictions. One can walk between the impressive apparatuses and imagine the 18th-century scientists of the royal court plotting and charting impossible distances and paths.
By Kristin Zibell, AFAR Local Expert
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The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is sort of a park, full of huge architectural astronomical instruments built in the 18th century. It's a truly fun place to hang out and take pictures.
By Azul Adnan, AFAR Local Expert
Ruminating on the Galaxy
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur was probably my favorite site in India (yes, it beat the Taj Mahal). Jantar Mantar is an observatory. The beauty and functionality of the instruments at Jantar Mantar, which has the largest sundial in the world, is truly amazing. I could have easily spent the day at this site, if only to watch the minutes pass by!
By Sandee Macht
World Heritage in Jantar Mantar
The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some twenty main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. The Jantar Mantar is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period. The Jantar Mantar observatory in Jaipur constitutes the most significant and best preserved set of fixed monumental instruments built in India tours the first half of the 18th century; some of them are the largest ever built in their categories. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. The observatory forms part of a tradition of Ptolemaic positional astronomy which was shared by many civilizations. It contributed by this type of observation to the completion of the astronomical tables of Zij. It is a late and ultimate monumental culmination of this tradition. Through the impetus of its creator, the prince Jai Singh II, the observatory was a meeting point for different scientific cultures, and gave rise to widespread social practices linked to cosmology. It was also a symbol of royal authority, through its urban dimensions, its control of time, and its rational and astrological forecasting capacities.
A walk-about in one of the world's largest sundials is not to be missed. The meticulous architecture and mathematical accuracy are something to be marveled upon. The sky was overcast when we visited and shadows were hard to come by, but the symmetry of even the garden sprinklers was worth the visit.
By Elise Hanna