Jantar Mantar Jaipur – A Glimpse of the Nuances of Chronology

Civilization in the world originated around the Indian subcontinent for the first time some 7000 years ago. This makes Indian civilization not only one of the oldest in the world but also one of the most mature and stable civilizations. Over several millennia of intensive exploration and questioning everything India’s knowledge base has become one of the largest and the most significant in the world.

The Sanskrit and Pali scriptures fond in India have significant mention of the sciences include Mathematics, Astronomy and Medicine. The Mughals brought with themselves a new way of doing and preserving mathematical formulations. High precision mathematical tools helped in the development of highly precise measuring devices includes clocks and watches.

The sundial was one of the oldest means of time keeping. The biggest disadvantage of these clocks was their non-usability during the night. The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur which is a medieval era scientific and architectural marvel uses not only the sun and the moon but the astronomical position of stars to calculate time and make other precise astronomical measurements.

Jantar Mantar Jaipur
Jantar Mantar Jaipur | Image Resource : museumsrajasthan.gov.in

The history of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is extremely unique which attracted me a great deal towards including it in my itinerary. It was completed in the year 1738 by the order of the Raja Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur. It had to be later improved and renovated by a British Armed Forces Engineer named Major Garret who was also a passionate amateur astronomer. Major Arthur Garret rectified many errors in the devices which had developed because of years of neglect and mishandling.

Chakra Yantra at Jantar Mantar Jaipur
Chakra Yantra at Jantar Mantar Jaipur | Image Resource : museumsrajasthan.gov.in

Some of the most important instrument at the Jantar Mantar includes the Kapala Yantraprakara and the Disha Yantra. It has been showed recently that it can be used to convert celestial measurements in one reference frame into the other. The Disha Yantra and the Dakshin Bhitti Yantra are used as their names suggest to measure positions and directions of celestial objects.

Dakshin Bhitti Yantra at Jantar Mantar Jaipur
Dakshin Bhitti Yantra at Jantar Mantar Jaipur | Image Resource : museumsrajasthan.gov.in

The systems present at Jantar Mantar are largely used for chronology but are also designed to take astronomical data. They are quite complicated and extremely nuanced and it is not possible for the general audience to grasp its detailed working. The significance and uses can although be grasped and realised. My children and I were extremely excited to learn so much the art of time keeping in India and how it became the base of all the modern science that we see in our country today.

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Hey, I am Adway Chavan, an IT professional who spends all of his working hours staring at a computer screen...well, almost all. IT is my passion whilst nature, wildlife and adventure are the buzzwords I live by. I am also an amateur photographer and have travelled extensively in India and abroad. I never ever turn down a travel idea and spend all my holidays visiting national parks and forest reserves, biking up mountains and taking road trips. I have also indulged in bungee jumping, paragliding and sailing. One day I hope to take up the greatest challenge of all and go trekking in the Himalayas! Till then, watch this space!

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