Jantar Mantar Jaipur.

Some more Jantar Mantar in Jaipur. This was the original one from the five sites that housed various models of it. This one is the largest of the three remaining and I was astounded by its audacity. It even has Zodiac constellation instruments.

Stunning shadows and angles.
Sculpture wonderland

From the UNESCO site: The Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.

The Sagittarius instrument

On the afternoon of my second day there I was acclimatised to Jaipurs’ bright dry harsh heat. I went into my iguana mode always best for hot countries and allowed it to punish me so I didn’t feel that panicky huffing and puffing when you don’t submit to the Sun God. Having said that when you entered Jantar Mantar Jaipur it was stingingly hot (average temperature end of March 36 degrees C) and the bright amazing light was perfect for photos of the sculptural geometric shapes and yet another staircase to heaven.

As an artist all I could do in Delhi was wander slack mouthed at the amazing artistry of the the astronomical instruments. Well they do say maths and art are one. However the Jaipur one is much more elaborate housing some downright mystical extras and generally a more impressive site. The glory of these beautiful pieces is that the landscape change is visceral during the course of the day as the sun tracks the heavens. It would be great to see them by moonlight but sadly they close at four and after that remain bathed in artificial light throughout the night.

Note the degree marks on the rim.

In the early 18th century, Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur constructed five Jantar Mantar in total, in New Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi

Stunning architectural forms ever changing in the bright Jaipur light

Here you go, have a bit of Wiki: The Jantar Mantar is an equinoctial sundial, consisting of a gigantic triangular gnomon with the hypotenuse parallel to the Earth‘s axis. On either side of the gnomon is a quadrant of a circle, parallel to the plane of the equator. The instrument is intended to measure the time of day, correct to half a second and declination of the Sun and the other heavenly bodies.

Bowl like beauty.

That’ll learn you to ask! My general understanding is that the people of the 18th Century were very keen on maths, beauty, measuring and astronomy. Following the celestial paths accurately meant also being able to measure time accurately. I loved the individual Zodiac ones and their beautiful glazed tiles showing each sign like the little Aries ram below.

There is no doubt that this is one of the places I have found most unusual and wonderful in my travels and really deserves a decent amount of time. There are benches in the shade of the trees there that you can sit at, near the sprinklers that constantly water the well groomed lawns and peruse the mastery of the instruments and ponder the mystery of the heavens.