Home > Delhi, Delhi Architecture, Delhi History, General > Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, an ancient observatory

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, an ancient observatory

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

An ancient observatory

Jantar Mantars are ancient observatories constructed between 1724 and 1730 Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II of Jaipur. A total of five Jantar Mantars were constructed across north India and were located in Jaipur, Delhi, Ujjani, Varanasi and Mathura.

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The Mishra Yantra at Jantar Mantar, Delhi

Jantar Mantar literally means a combination of instruments and formulas (jantar = instrument, mantar = formula). Each of the observatories consists of a series of masonry architecture of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement.

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Samrat Yantra, Jantar Mantar, Delhi

This large scale structure with striking combinations of geometry have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians world wide, yet remain largely unknown to the general public.

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Rama Yantra, Jantar Mantar, Delhi

The primary purpose of the observatory was to compile astronomical tables, and to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets. The other objective was to create large scale permanent instruments which would provide more accuracy and precision in astronomical calculation.

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Mishra Yantra, Jantar Mantar, Delhi

Among the Jantar Mantars the one at Jaipur is the largest and the most preserved one.

Tthe one at Delhi (New Delhi) is also well preserved and is located at the heart of the city.

The Delhi Jantar Mantar consists of four instruments, namely Samrat Yantra, Rama Yantra, Jayprakash Yantra and Mishra Yantra.

The Samrat Yantra, literally the supreme instrument, is a gigantic sun dial with amazing accuracy. Although sundials have existed centuries before the Samrat Yantra but its sheer size and accuracy is what makes  it unique.

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Jayprakash Yantra, Jantar Mantar, Delhi (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Varun Shiv Kapur

The Rama Yantra consists of two huge open cylinders opening up to the sky, each with a central pillar.

It is used to find the position of any celestial body by calculating its azimuth and elevation.

It is a paired instrument where one is an exact complements (or opposites) of the other.

If you could lift one and superimpose it over the other, the surface would be continuous.

The Jaiprakash Yantra is similar twin instrument with two bowl shaped depressions built partly above and partly below ground level. It also measures the position of a celestial body.

The fourth and the final instrument in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar is the Mishra Yantra, the mixed instrument. It is iconic not only to the Jantar Mantar but to the whole of Delhi. It also served logo of the Delhi 1982 Asian Games.

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A panoramic view of Jantar Mantar, Delhi

This Yantra is unique to the Delhi observatory and is not found in any of the other Jantar Mantras. The Mishra or composite Yantra is composed of five different instruments, including a smaller Samrat Yantra.

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Two kids play inside the Rama Yantra, Jantar Mantar, Delhi

The instrument was used to identify the shortest and longest days of the year. It could also be used to indicate the exact moment of noon in various cities and locations regardless of their distance from Delhi.

Today Jantar Mantar lies in the heart of Delhi (Google map location) and is an important tourist destination. It is a protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

  1. Teena rutberg
    February 27, 2019 at 8:37 AM

    can you send me info on how to gain entrance to Magen David Synagogue? I’ll be in Kolkata March 22

    • February 27, 2019 at 9:32 PM

      The Magen David Synagogue is open to public from 8 am – 5 pm all days. Do carry a photo identity, if you are a non Indian do carry your passport. It is same for the other two synagogues of Calcutta.

      If you need any further info do drop me a mail at rangan@rangan-datta.info

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