Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey

North India: Gallery 13

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    The Jantar Mantar ("Magical Device") Observatory Monument of Jaipur is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh, and completed in 1734 CE. The monument features masonry, stone and brass instruments that were built using astronomy and instrument design principles of ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts. The instruments allow the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. 

    Jantar Mantar is one of the largest stone observatories in the world which is still running. It stands witness to the wisdom of the former age. The sundial  has a time accuracy of  two seconds! The monument expresses architectural innovations, as well as the coming together of ideas from different religious and social beliefs in 18th century India. The observatory is an example of the Ptolemaic positional astronomy which was shared by many civilizations.

    The monument features instruments operating in each of the three main classical celestial coordinate systems: the horizon-zenith local system, the equatorial system and the ecliptic system. The observatory consists of nineteen instruments for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking location of major stars as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides. Ref: Wikipedia. The instruments are:

  • Chakra Yantra (four semicircular arcs on which a gnomon casts a shadow, thereby giving the declination of the Sun at four specified times of the day. This data corresponds to noon at four observatories around the world (Greenwich in UK, Zurich in Switzerland, Notke in Japan and Saitchen in the Pacific); this is equivalent of a wall of clocks registering local times in different parts of the world.)
  • Dakshin Bhitti Yantra (measures meridian, altitude and zenith distances of celestial bodies)
  • Digamsha Yantra (a pillar in the middle of two concentric outer circles, used to measure azimuth of the sun, and to calculate the time of sunrise and sunset forecasts)
  • Dhruva Darshak Pattika (observe and find the location of pole star with respect to other celestial bodies)
  • Jai Prakash Yantra (a two hemispherical bowl-based sundial with marked marble slabs that map inverted image of sky and allows the observer to move inside the instrument, measures altitudes, azimuths, hour angles and declinations)
  • Kapala Yantra (measures coordinates of celestial bodies in azimuth and equatorial systems, any point in sky can be visually transformed from one coordinate system to another)
  • Kranti Vritta Yantra (measures longitude and latitude of celestial bodies)
  • Laghu Samrat Yantra (the smaller sundial at the monument, inclined at 27 degrees, to measure time, less accurate than Vrihat Samrat Yantra)
  • Nadi Valaya Yantra (two sundials on different faces of the instrument, the two faces represent north and south hemispheres, the accuracy of the instrument in measuring the time is less than a minute)
  • Rama Yantra (a double cylinder instrument that measures azimuth and altitudes of celestial bodies)
  • Rasi Valaya Yantra (12 gnomon dials that measure ecliptic coordinates of stars, planets and all 12 constellation systems)
  • Shastansh Yantra (next to Vrihat Samrat Yantra, this instrument is a 60 degree arc built in the meridian plane within a dark chamber. At noon, the sun's pinhole image falls on a scale below enabling the observer to measure the zenith distance, declination, and the diameter of the Sun.)
  • Unnatasha Yantra (a metal ring divided into four segments by horizontal and vertical lines, with a hole in the middle; the position and orientation of the instrument allows measurement of the altitude of celestial bodies)
  • Vrihat Samrat Yantra (world's largest gnomon sundial, measures time in intervals of 2 seconds using shadow cast from the sunlight)
  • Yantra Raj Yantra (a 2.43-metre bronze astrolabe, one of the largest in the world, used only once a year, calculates the Hindu calendar)
  • Plus: Disha Yantra ~ Kanali Yantra ~ Misra Yantra ~ Palbha Yantra

Aerial Overview

Entering Jantar Mantar Monument Grounds

Laghu Samrat Yantra (smaller sundial)
and Observation deck of the
Vrihat Samrat Yantra (the world's largest sundial).

Jai Prakash Yantra
A two hemispherical bowl-based sundial
that measures altitudes, azimuths, hour angles and declinations

The beautifully-kept compound

Nadivalaya Yantra
Two sundials on different faces representing north and south hemispheres

Rasi Valaya Yantra - Zodiac Circle






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Bill and Sue-On Hillman Eclectic Studio