Saturday, October 7, 2017

1104 Jantar Mantar, Jaipur...!

Aryabhatta, Baskaracharya and Varahamihira were the first and famous mathematicians and astronomers who gave us the science of astronomy and astrology in prose form.

It was in the early 18th century, the Rajput ruler of Amber, Maharaja Jai Singh constructed five astronomical monuments called Jantar Mantar (Jantar is from the Sanskrit word “Yantra,” meaning “Instrument,” as does Mantar from “Mantra,” meaning formula) in Delhi, Mathura, Varanasi, Ujjain and Jaipur. What is more amazing about these astronomical monuments is that one can keep track of all the Celestial Bodies from here. Yes by that time Galileo had invented telescope and even before the invention of telescope our ancient knew a lot about the solar system.

Maharaja Jai Singh who was a Rajput Mughal Commander had keen interest in Astronomy an Astrology. It is that interest which has made the Jantar Mantar sit pretty within City Palace compound of Jaipur and during our visit, we had the opportunity to spend a quiet & reflective afternoon among those beautiful structures.

Jantar Mantar has been declared as one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and rightfully so. It is a architectural astronomical marvel, working perfectly even to the present day. The observatory has 14 astronomic structures, which are not only large in size, but built from solid stone & marble. We were told by our guide that the scale to which they have been built has been to increase the accuracy in calculations.

Our guide showing us around knew a lot about how measurements work and how to make calculations. He explained to us how the Sundial can show us the time by the shadow of a pointer cast by the Sun on to a plate marked with the hours, minutes and seconds of the day.

What really interested me was the individual constellation device for different Sun signs. Also there was an instrument which could inform us the zodiac sign of the month. Yet another yantra as they are called, give us the information of the Lagna (Ascendant) for the prediction of destined future of an individual.

The Nakshtras (Celestial Stars) which according to our astronomers are 27 in number and are divided into 13.33° segments. And we have 12 Zodiac signs which are divided into 30° segments. All these astronomical measurements can be calculated using those massive monuments.

Jantar Mantar is a nice place to visit if you are in Jaipur and it is really well preserved, no doubt it is a World Heritage site, we did not know about this bit of information. And, just when I started writing this post, we were on the way to Amber Palace which is also is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The mirror work on the ceiling at Amber Palace to make it look like glowing stars when a beam of light is flashed on it..... is simply amazing.

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