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The Jaipur sundial trail
The Sundials and other astronomical instruments of the
Jaipur Observatory (Jantar Mantar)
The astronomical observatory at Jaipur in India contains a magnificent
collection of very large sundials and scientific instruments. It is
one of 5 such observatories in northern India built by the Maharajah
Sawai Jai Singh II, an extraordinary man who was greatly interested
in both astronomy and astrology.
The story goes that, in 1719, the Mogul emperor Mohammad Shah, was about to leave on a long-planned expedition. The day had been predicted to be particularly auspicious, but on the previous evening, it was found that the planets, which determined the choice of day, were not in their predicted place in the sky. This determined Jai Singh to build a bigger and better observatory, so that such mistakes would not arise in the future.
So the observatory in Delhi was constructed in 7 years from 1724, and the observations made there enabled the imperial calendar to be reformed, and the obliquity of the ecliptic to be calculated to 23° 28' When Jai Singh decided to move from the ancient capital of Rajastan at Amber and to found a new city, Jaipur, in the valley below, he naturally decided to build an observatory next to his palace in the centre of the city. The Jaipur observatory, known as the Jantar Mantar, was started in 1728. It is the biggest of the 5 observatories built by this amazing ruler and polymath.
The observatory contains a large number of astronomical instruments. They can be classified according to their function and use, as follows:
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