Indeed great news!
Recently came across a news item in Business Standard titled: On Again, Off Again which caught my fancy…Lo & Behold it turned out to be of interest to me. It mentioned about one of my favourite tourist destinations – Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, situated in the heart of India’s foremost shopping and commercial hub – Connaught Place, New Delhi. The news item read: The Archaeological Survey of India has given its nod for renovation of Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The project which was slated to begin in 2007, will try to restore the fading marking on the astronomical instruments inside the observatory. These have been gradually destroyed with pedestrian movement and tourist activity in the area. It’s great news for all of us!
I could not resist providing my account of my recent visit to Jantar Mantar with my family in April this year. My daughter Tanyaa had special interest in visiting Jantar Mantar as she is the only one in the family to understand the astronomical signs and it evinced great interest in her. My husband Mukund was keener on visiting the place as he wanted to visit the place where AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal did all his dharnas. It was early morning trip to Jantar Mantar when sun was just rising and lawns looked lush green and awesome. We could feel that some of the astronomical signs had faded as compared to Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, surprisingly my daughter mentioned this to me.
So to begin with why it is called Jantar Mantar? Jantar means yantra (instruments) and Mantar means formulae. Actually both these words are from Sanskrit language. Jantar Mantar contains 13 architectural astronomy instruments. You would be aware that Maharaj Jai Singh was king of Jaipur and he has built total 5 monuments in India. Jantar Mantar is one of those Monuments of India which was built by Maharaj Jai Singh.
Maharaj Jaisingh noticed that present astronomical instruments are too small for taking accurate measurement. And because of this, he built very large and accurate instruments which are known as Jantar Mantar. In 1724 Jantar Mantar was constructed in stone and marbles. The Ram yantra, The samrat Yantra, Jayprakash yantra and The mishra yantras are the distinct instruments of Jantar Mantar.
There are three instruments within the observatory of Jantar Mantar in New Delhi: the Samrat Yantra, the Jayaprakash, and the Misra Yantra.
• Samrat Yantra: The Samrat Yantra, or Supreme Instrument, is a giant triangle that is basically an equal hour sundial. It is 70 feet high, 114 feet long at the base, and 10 feet thick. It has a 128-foot-long (39 m) hypotenuse that is parallel to the Earth’s axis and points toward the North Pole. On either side of the triangle is a quadrant with graduations indicating hours, minutes, and seconds. At the time of the Samrat Yantra’s construction, sundials already existed, but the Samrat Yantra turned the basic sundial into a precision tool for measuring declination and other related coordinates of various heavenly bodies.
• Jayaprakash Yantra: The Jayaprakash consists of hollowed out hemispheres with markings on their concave surfaces. Crosswires were stretched between points on their rim. From inside the Ram, an observer could align the position of a star with various markings or a window’s edge.
• Misra Yantra: The Misra Yantra was designed as a tool to determine 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 – quite remarkable! The Mishra yantras were able to indicate when it was noon in various cities all over the world and was the only structure in the observatory not invented by Jai Singh II.
This unique observatory was completed in 1724 and remained operational only for seven years. Astronomical observations were regularly made here and these observations were used for drawing up a new set of tables, later compiled as Zij Muhammad Shahi dedicated to the reigning monarch. Jai Singh named his observatory Jantar Mantar (actually Yantra Mantra, yantra for instrument and mantra for formula).
Spurred on by the completion of the first Jantar Mantar and with a view to verifying astronomical observations made at Delhi, Jai Singh built similar, if smaller observatories, at other important Indian cities-Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain, and Mathura.
The Jantar Mantar in Delhi is often projected in travel books, brochures, on postage stamps and was the logo of the 1982 Asian Games. The Jantar Mantar shows that the spirit of scientific enquiry was not dead in India and would have yielded rich results if only an opportunity had been given to it to fructify. The Jantar Mantar on the Parliament Street remains one of the most intriguing structures of the capital, one that explodes in a burst of questions in the mind of the inquisitive tourist.
Tourists can reach the Jantar Mantar in many ways. They can either take local buses from various points within the city to reach this monument, which is located in Connaught Place, the heart of the city, or they can hire auto-rickshaws and taxis for the purpose. One can take buses from the bus termini located at Kashmere Gate and Sarai Kale Khan to reach this monument. Local guided tours conducted by Delhi Tourism and private operators covers this important monument.
Must in your interinery, when you are next in Delhi, Now Arvind Kejriwal can rejoice, he can continue his dharnas on a new look Jantar Mantar.