: Near Connaught Place, New Delhi
: Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur
: Astronomical Observatory
Astronomical comments were frequently made over here and these observations were used for drawing up a new set of tables, later compiled as Zij Muhammad Shahi keen to the reigning monarch. Jai Singh named his observatory Jantar Mantar, which is actually pronounced, as 'Yantra Mantra', yantra for instrument and mantra for formula. A huge sundial known as "Samrat Yantra" or 'Prince of Dials', meant to measure accurate time of the day within half a second and the declination of the sun and other heavenly bodies dominates it.
Jantar Mantar of New Delhi was built in 1724 by
Raja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in Delhi. Jantar Mantar of Delhi is an
excessive observatory with stonework instruments. Jantar Mantar in Delhi
is an amazing and interested creation of Raja Jai Singh II, the
mathematician and astronomer emperor. Jantar Mantar has instruments that
can graph the path of the huge universe.
The name of this remarkable astronomical
observatory, Jantar Mantar means 'tool for calculation.'
There is a huge Samrat Yantra at the edge of Jantar Mantar. To
the south of Samrat Yantra there is an astonishing instrument called
Jai Prakash. The Jai Prakash of Jantar Mantar in Delhi has two
hollow hemispherical structures and used for determining the position of
the sun and celestial bodies. Jantar Mantar is built of brick ruins that
are plastered in lime. You can see the following instruments inside the
Jantar Mantar of Delhi.
All these instruments can be used for different
astronomical calculations. Jantar Mantar of Delhi is even used by modern
day scholars to determine the site of the wonderful bodies in our
If you trip the capital city of New Delhi, do not forget to have a
glimpse of Jantar Mantar a beautiful making of the Jaipur King.
Jai Singh himself designed this yantra. Other yantras were also meant for the study of heavenly bodies, plotting their course and predicting eclipses. The two pillars on the southwest of
Mishra Yantra are meant to agree on the shortest and longest days of the year. Interestingly, in December one pillar completely covers the other with its shadow while in June it does not cast any such shadow at all. After the completion of the first Jantar Mantar and with a view to verifying astronomical observations made at Delhi, Jai Singh built similar, even if smaller observatories, at other important
Indian cities-Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain, and Mathura. The Jantar Mantars may have fallen into disuse but they remain an essential part of India's scientific heritage. Jantar Mantar presents that the spirit of scientific enquiry was not dead in India and would have yielded wealthy results if only a chance of research and development had been given to it. This monument located just a stroll away on the Parliament Street, still remains one of the most intriguing structures of the capital, one that burst in a flood of questions inside the curious mind of the tourist.
The main structures are large scale; complicated scientific instruments constructed in brick and plaster, and consist of extruded, interlocked shapes extremely unusual to the architecture of the period.
Asher, Catherine 1992 The New Cambridge History of India: Architecture of Mughal India Cambridge University Press: Cambridge p. 300
Nath, R. 1979 Monuments of Delhi, New Delhi: Ambika publications p. 67 .
Legend Behind Jantar Mantar
Jai Singh was passionate about two things-arts and the sciences, chiefly astronomy. Once, at the court of Muhammad Shah, he found the Hindu and Muslim astrologers embroiled in a heated quarrel over certain planetary positions. It was imperative that the positions be known accurately to determine an auspicious hour for the emperor to set out on an expedition. Jai Singh offered to rectify the then available astronomical tables, an offer that was readily accepted by the Mughal emperor. The result was an onsite Jantar Mantar in Delhi, an astronomical observatory where the movements of sun, moon and planets could be observed.
Jai Singh's idea was to create a rebirth of practical astronomy among the Indian masses and working astronomers. However, the lofty ideals of the Jantar Mantar remained unfulfilled as the country at that time was in chaos and the full potential of this observatory was never realized.
In the start, Jai Singh tried to use brass instruments in this observatory, but soon gave them up because of several inherent flaws. They were too small, for one thing, their axes were unbalanced so the center often got displaced. He then decided to follow the style adopted by the well-known Arab astronomer, Prince Ulugh Beg, builder of the famous 15th century observatory at Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The massive masonry instruments at Samarkand suited Jai Singh's architectural tastes and promised to be more accurate because of sheer size. In 1730, Jai Singh sent a operation to the king of Lisbon. On its return to Jaipur, the mission brought back a telescope and the court astronomer by the name of Xavier de Silva.