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Jantar-Mantar (Jaipur)
Located outside the gateway of the City Palace, Jantar Mantar is an open-air observatory and one of the main tourist attractions of the city. The Sanskrit term of Jantar Mantar, which when translated means a 'Magical Device' has always had a mystical gleam about it. Built in 1728 by the talented Maharaja Jai Singh II, the colossal Jantar Mantar at first glance appears to be a curious yet interesting collection of sculptures. Contrary to this in fact each construction has a specific purpose, such as measuring the positions of stars, altitudes and azimuths, and calculating eclipses. The Jantar Mantar at Jaipur was conceived as a quest for discovering the mysteries of the Cosmos. It was built not only to verify astronomical observations made at Jaipur, but also to stimulate interest in astronomy, which had become enmeshed in theory, superstition and religious jargon.
One of the most surrealistic landscapes in stone, the Jantar Mantar was built to measure the local time, the Sun's declination, altitude, the declination of stars, planets and to determine eclipses. Between 1724 and 1734, the Maharaja of Jaipur constructed five astronomical observatories in west central India (Delhi 1724, Jaipur 1728, Ujjain 1734, Varanasi 1737 and Mathura 1738). The observatories, or 'Jantar Mantars' as they are commonly known, incorporate multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specialised function for astronomical measurement. These structures with their striking combinations of geometric forms in a large scale, have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians world wide, yet remain largely unknown to the general public.
About Jantar-Mantar
In all there are 17 instruments in the Jantar Mantar complex. The function of each instrument is rather complex but serves a particular function where time plays the main theme. They also give precise readings of the astronomical occurring. The large Krantivritta Yantra was employed for the measurement of the longitude and latitude of the celestial bodies during the day as well as night. The Digansha Yantra was devised to measure the azimuth (arc of the celestial great circle from zenith to horizon) of planetary bodies. The small Samrat Yantra is a triangular structure and has a large sundial with quadrants at the borders given in hours and minutes.
Similarly, the Small Ram Yantra and the Large Ram Yantra are used to find the altitude and the azimuth. The Chakra Yantra gives the angular measurement of an object from the equator. The Jai Prakash Yantra determines the precise coordinates of celestial bodies and the small iron plate strung between the cross wires gives the sun's longitude and latitude and the zodiacal sign that it is passing through. Its main function is to keep an eye on all the other instruments. The Rasivalayas Yantra operates in the same manner as that of the Samrat Yantra and has one sundial for each of the zodiac signs. The Disha Yantra has only one function and that is to point towards the north. The Unnathansha Yantra is used to find the altitudes of the astral bodies.
The Dhruva Yantra helps in finding the position of the Pole Star at night and also those of the 12 zodiac signs. The Raj Yantra or the King of Instruments is used only once a year to calculate the Hindu calendar, the details of which are based on the Jaipur Standard.
Jai Singh was a great admirer of progresses and research made in the fields of science and technology, but he was passionate about astronomy. Before the commencement of construction he sent scholars abroad to study the foreign observatories. The emissaries returned with many manuals on astronomy, containing cutting-edge technological information. One of these manuals contained a copy of La Hire's Tables. The king ordered the observatory to be built according to the details contained in the manual and when the construction got over, to the astonishment of the king and others, the observatory was 20 seconds more accurate than the one mentioned in Table. Pandit Jagannnath Samrat and Pandit Keval Ramji were the two main persons who supported and guided the whole process of constructing the Jantar Mantar.

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