Jantar Mantar, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh’s Observatory in Delhi

Front Cover
Ambi Knowledge Resource, 2010 - Science - 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

many questions.

• 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.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This well-researched book has successfully revived the traditional astrological knowledge of India. The descriptive write-ups about the various Yantras have brought to life the bygone era of Indian scientific brilliance. ... Evocative photographs (Old and New) and copious illustrations makes this book - simply un-put-down-able. A must-have for all heritage lovers, Indologists and history buffs ... 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I read this book sometime back and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is simply written and yet gets all the information in, including the academic and the specialist bits. So it serves the astronomer, the architect and the conservator well. At the same time the lucid style, along with the easy format of the book make it equally accessible to a tourist and/or a child. One of the things i really appreciated about the book was its size, which makes it possible to carry it easily and leaf through it even as you walk at the Jantar Mantar. 

All 7 reviews »


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Section 14
Section 15
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Section 17

Section 9

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Anisha Shekhar Mukherji, an architect with a specialization in conservation architecture, works selectively as a conservation consultant and architectural historian and an independent designer and researcher. An alumnus of the School of Planning and Architecture (S.P.A.) Delhi, she has worked on a range of architectural and conservation projects directed by her special interest in the research, teaching and application of history. Anisha’s post-graduate thesis at the De Montfort University, Leicester, U.K. as an Overseas Development Association (ODA) Scholar, proposed a view beyond conventional conservation methods, and instead advocated the novel concept of ‘Spatial Conservation’, which she later detailed extensively in her writings and public lectures. Her forte lies in researching and reading historical sites, and integrating approaches to crafts, spatial patterns, and building traditions. She has lectured on her areas of expertise, at institutions such as The India International Centre, Delhi, The United Services Institution, Delhi, The British Council, ATTIC, The University of Aberdeen, CEPT University, Ahmadabad, KRVIA College Mumbai, and IES College of Architecture, Mumbai. She has also been teaching as Visiting Faculty at the Architecture Department, Industrial Design Department, and the Conservation Department at S.P.A. Delhi.


Anisha believes that history is as much to do with the present as the past, and she has worked consistently to underline this in the projects she has been associated with. These range from the formulation of city-development strategies for the walled city of Ahmadabad, to working out conservation philosophies and detailing out management plans for historic and complex building sites such as the Delhi Red Fort and the Jantar Mantar Observatory, as a consultant or advisor to institutions and organizations such as the Archaeological Survey of India, World Bank, The Doon School, and The Apeejay Park Hotels. While Anisha has contributed to various journals and magazines such as Marg and the USI Journal, she also works to draw focus on issues of design, history, education and architecture in the public domain. Her blog (http://anishashekhar.blogspot.in/) contains a variety of writings aimed at an audience beyond architects and designers, while the publishing house (http://ambiknowledgeresources.wordpress.com/) that she has set up along with fellow professionals and friends, seeks to produce books related to the physical environment and heritage of the sub-continent. 

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