Jantar Mantar, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh’s Observatory in Delhi
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.
What people are saying - Write a review
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.
Jantar Mantar, as monuments, are fascinating for historians, architects, astronomers and astrologers alike. As an architect, with an interest in all the above mentioned subjects, I found this book to be an important source of information and documentation, not to mention the delightful reading
After reading this book, we as a family were inspired to visit the Jantar Mantar at New Delhi with a new excitement and interest. We also visited the one at Jaipur, and also the relatively less known Jantar Mantar at Varanasi on recent vacations.
Architect Nishit Gupta