The Jantar Mantar is the most iconic attraction of Jaipur which is the largest city and capital of the western Indian state of Rajasthan. The Jantar Mantar is the name of the celestial observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the founder of the city of Jaipur.
Maharaja Jai Singh II was known as one of the most progressive princely rulers in India. He was an astronomer, urban planner, architect and military tactician of great merit. All of these skills were brought to bear by the Maharaja’s administration when he built the city of Jaipur. Jaipur is pre-modern India’s only planned city with an urban grid and a master plan.
Being an avid astronomer, the Maharaja built the Jantar Mantar right next to the City Palace which was his abode in the heart of Jaipur. The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is the second such observatory that the King built. The first was built in Delhi by the Maharaja at the request of the reigning Mughal Emperor to help standardize the time and celestial calendar in the Mughal realm across India. Eventually the Maharaja built five such observatories across India. These were built in Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi. However the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is the largest and the best preserved of these observatories. The Jantar Mantar is made out of stone and marble as Rajasthan is home to some of the finest marble quarries of India.
The Jantar Mantar seems at first glance a collection of bizarre stone sculptures. However upon closer inspection, guides walk visitors through an explanation how each construct in the observatory is used to measure precise celestial movements as well as make complex calculations such star positions, altitudes, azimuths and even predict eclipses.
The Jantar Mantar is a phenomenal sight to behold. The Jantar Mantar consists of 14 solid geometric devices including an equinoctial sundial and a gigantic gnomon with the hypotenuse parallel to the Earth’s Axis. On either side of this is a quadrant of a circle that is parallel to the plane of the equator. The face of the Jantar Mantar is angled precisely at 27 degrees which is the latitude of the city of Jaipur. The Jantar Mantar also has the world’s largest sundial which stands 27 meters tall and is called the Samrat Yantra which means “Supreme Instrument”.
The name Jantar Mantar colloquially in Hindi loosely translates to “Hocus Pocus” which many historians attribute to the almost magical precision of the instrument. Many scholars of ancient India and Vedic literature dispute this, claiming that the name has its roots in ancient Sanskrit and derives from the words Yantra meaning “Instrument” and Mantra meaning “Prayer-like Chants”.
The Jantar Mantar even to date is famous for the great precision of its calculations and has amazed visitors to Jaipur through the ages. The instrument can measure the time of the day to an accuracy of half a second and can map the declination of the sun and heavenly bodies to a level of precision that borders on the fantastic.
The Jantar Mantar has been restored many times, the earliest restoration exercise was conducted in 1901 by India’s British rulers. The Jantar Mantar was nominated as a national monument of India in 1948 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
As with the rest of India, the period between October to March is undoubtedly the best time to visit the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur. The weather in the city is comparatively pleasant and the scorching Rajasthani summers as well as the inundating monsoon rains do not disrupt any tour of the Jantar Mantar.
The Jantar Mantar is located in Jaipur which is the capital of the western Indian state of Rajasthan. The city due to its rich history, amazing culture and iconic attractions is part of the Golden Triangle in India along with Agra and Delhi and gets a major share of the foreign tourist traffic coming to India.
While Jaipur has its own international airport, this provides extremely limited international connections. Most foreign travelers coming to see the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur use Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and then take a domestic connecting flight or drive down in a luxury SUV to Jaipur.
The Jantar Mantar is the most iconic monument of Jaipur and is therefore a must on every tour itinerary of the city.
While the Jantar Mantar will hold particular interest for enthusiasts of culture, history, astronomy and astrology, all visitors to Jaipur will find visiting the Jantar Mantar an amazing experience considering the uniqueness of the monument and its fantastic back-story.
Appropriate Attire :
The Jantar Mantar is situated in Rajasthan which is mostly desert with hot weather for the greater part of the year. Visitors should ideally wear loose cotton clothing that is breathable albeit modest clothing which covers arms, legs and shoulders.
Also any visit to the Jantar Mantar might be in conjunction with other attractions of Jaipur, visitors should also take precautions against strong sunlight as well as opt for slip-on shoes and socks as some religious sites on the itinerary may require guests to remove shoes.