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World Heritage Site -The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

There are plenty of observatories all over the world, but the Jantar Mantar is considered to be one of the largest observatories ever built. Combining religion, science and art, the Jantar Mantar is the name given to a series of five, magnificent structures built in Jaipur, New Delhi, Ujjan, Varanasi and Mathura. Jaipur was the seat of Maharaja Jai Singh II during the 1720's and this is when this magnificent structure was built here.
Jantar Mantar Jaipur
The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is considered to be the largest of the five observatories and also houses the world's largest sundial. The Universe and the Cosmos have always been of interest to man, and it was this interest that compelled the Maharaja to build an astronomical observatory. The term 'Jantar Mantar' is derived from the Sanskrit terms 'Yantra' and 'Mantra' meaning 'instruments' and 'formula' respectively. The term 'Yantra' was replaced with 'Jantar' which means 'magical'. The Jantar Mantar houses various architectural and astrological instruments that have caught the interests of astronomers, historians and architects around the world. Jantar Mantar features in World Heritage sites of UNESCO and is described as a site of cosmological concepts and astronomical skills of Mughal period. The site underwent initial restoration with appointment of Major Arthur Garrett as Assistant State Engineer of Jaipur District. He had keen interest in astronomy.

History
Maharaja Jai Singh II, the founder of the 'pink city', was a great scholar and an avid astrologer. He studied philosophy, astrology, architecture and religion in various schools, and was also well versed with universal mathematical concepts such as Euclid's Clements, Ptolemy's Syntaxes and the Master works of Aryabhatta. In the year 1718, he wanted to construct an observatory of renown. For this, he studied the subject of astronomy and then built five different observatories around North India. At these places, he would sit with other scholarly astronomers, such as Pt. Kedarnath, for astronomical observations. The 'Jantar Mantar' at Jaipur, being the biggest conservatory in the country, was renovated time and again and houses various instruments that offer precise measurements of time, the azimuth, declination of the sun and the positions of constellations, along with several other astronomical phenomena. The Jaipur observatory was functional for seven years only, as the Maharaja was not very successful in deriving accurate, astronomical observations.

Architecture
Jantar Mantar houses 14 major astronomical instruments for recording time, forecasting eclipses, locating zodiac signs, planetary motions, analyzing declinations of planets and measuring height of heavenly bodies. All these instruments are fixed keeping the required focus. The biggest instrument of this observatory is Samrat Yantra which stands tall at a height of ninety feet. Shadow of this instrument helps in measuring time of the day. The face of instrument is placed at an angle of twenty seven degrees, which is latitude of Jaipur city. The Hindu chhatri which is another instrument helps in effectively forecasting onset of monsoon and eclipses.
All instruments are constructed using marble and local stone. These structures are provided with an astronomical scale which is positioned in inner lining of marble. Some instruments also contain bronze tablets which are believed to provide precise reading. The complete structures were renovated and restored in 1901. The structure was announced as a national monument in 1948.
A visit to this observatory and spending some quality time here would help us understand basics of astronomy and deductions followed to arrive at an astronomical observation.
Most instruments in observatory are of huge sizes while the modern astronomy believes that a large size of the structure helps in providing accurate readings. The sun penumbra is approximately thirty mm wide and this is believed to make one mm scale of Samrat Yantra ineffective. Further, the masons involved in construction of these structures had absolutely no knowledge of astronomy. So they did not exercise any precision while installing the scale. Main attraction of observatory is Samrat Yantra which is a tall structure or a giant sun dial which can read local time to precision of 2 seconds. It is very interesting to see the shadow movement and time calculation.
Jantar Mantar is a hot tourist attraction for people visiting Jaipur. The observatory is still being used by local astronomers to forecast weather for farmers. However, with invention of modern astronomical instruments their veracity is becoming dubious. The students in field of Vedic astrology and astronomy should definitely visit this site to make a note of various representations of this ancient science. This observatory displays the classic example of Vedic thought still persisting. Some smaller instruments like Ram Yantra present excellent culmination of architecture and astronomy.

The fourteen Yantras present at Jantar Mantar

Samrat Yantra: - This Yantra consists of a Sun Dial which is used for calculating time during day.
Disha Yantra:- Disha Yantra is highly helpful Yantra which always points to North direction.
Dakshina Yantra:- This Yantra proved very useful in observing movement of celestial bodies while passing through a selected meridian.
Large Samrat Yantra:- This Yantra is much accurate and 10 times bigger than Samrat Yantra. This helps in accurately predicting monsoon arrival and its extent.
Ram Yantra:- Ram Yantra is used to calculate azimuth, altitude and declination in celestial bodies.
Kranti Yantra:- This Yantra is helpful in measuring latitude and longitude of celestial bodies.
Raj Yantra:- This Yantra finds application only once in a year for calculating Hindu calendar.
Unnsyhsmsa Yantra:- This Yantra is helpful in calculating height of celestial bodies.
Jai Prakash Yantra:- This Yantra is made use of to locate position of celestial bodies during nights and day time.
Dhruva Yantra:- Dhruv Yantra helps in identifying positions of Pole star at night and twelve Zodiac signs.
Narivalya Yantra:- This is unique Yantra which consists of two dials for reading time of both hemispheres.
Chakra Yantra:- Chakra Yantra is helpful in calculating angle of an object with reference to equator.
Rashivalayas Yantra:- This Yantra consists of twelve sundials which are for Zodiac signs.
Jai Prakash Yantra:- This Yantra is a master Yantra for checking quality of all other instruments.

How to Reach
Jaipur, the capital of Indian state of Rajasthan is well connected by Train, Road and flight from all major Indian cities. Further, road within the city is excellent making tourists to enjoy every moment of their stay in Jaipur.
By Air
There is excellent flight connectivity from national capital which is located at a distance of three hundred km. There are also regular flights from other important destinations like Jodhpur, Udaipur in Rajasthan, Aurangabad, Mumbai, Varanasi and Calcutta. Numerous low fare airlines operate from Jaipur airport.
By Rail
Jaipur is a major railway station with regular express and super fast trains to major Indian cities
By Road
Tourists can travel to almost all nearby major destinations by Road. There are regular bus services operated by state governments and private tour operators. An excellent road network of Jaipur makes it ideal to undertake road journey. There are regular bus services to Udaipur, Ajmer, Agra, Jodhpur and Delhi and at a very reasonable fare.Tourists can also opt for Volvo, luxury and AC coaches.

Nearby Tourist Attractions
Jaipur City Palace
Jaigarh Fort
Galta Monkey Temple

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