Jantar Mantar, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh’s Observatory in Delhi
Ambi Knowledge Resource, 2010 - 224 pages
The Delhi Jantar Mantar is an enigma. Its
huge and arresting forms evoke awe even
today when architecture seems to consist
primarily of strange shapes and proportions.
Most people who see it are left with
• What is it really?
• Why is it called Jantar Mantar? Is it
linked to the performance of some
mystical religious rites?
• How were its gigantic structures made?
• Do they form part of a maze? Are they
forerunners of abstract art installations?
• Or are they buildings? If so, what is this
strange architectural style, so different
from the other buildings of its time?
• How, if at all, is it linked to astronomy?
This informative history and fi eld guide
explains all this and more. Based on over
a decade of extensive research, it uses
archival images, photographs, drawings
and sketches, to unravel how the 300 year
old Jantar Mantar Observatory looked and
worked in the past.
Each instrument of the Jantar Mantar
is explained separately as a guided
‘walk’. The book includes information on
traditional Indian astronomy, and on the
political and cultural background of this
‘royal observatory’ established by Maharaja
Sawai Jai Singh II. It not only traces
its transformation into ‘an archaeological
monument’, but also charts the way
ahead by which the Delhi Jantar Mantar’s
historical function may be revived and
conserved for future generations.
Carry this book to the Jantar Mantar and
walk around the instruments with it. Or
read it before and after your visit to understand
one of the world’s most unusual
and intriguing works of architecture.
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