Dating back to 1726, the Jantar Mantar is an observatory with 19 fixed astronomical instruments. The tools in this UNESCO World Heritage site can be used for everything from tracking astronomical movements to predicting eclipses. It's one of five such north Indian observatories, all of which were built by Jai Singh II.
Jai Singh II, who ruled over what is now Amber and Jaipur, was an avid astronomer and was the man responsible for constructing Jaipur, effectively moving the capital from nearby Amber. He also designed many of the tools in the Jantar Mantar, and the Samrat Yantra in the complex is the world’s largest gnomon sundial. Because of the site’s historical significance, most Jaipur tours stop here. Or, buy a ticket online in advance and explore on your own.
Things to Know Before You Go
Jantar Mantar is a must-visit for history and science buffs.
Make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat, as most of the complex is exposed to the sun.
Most of the Jantar Mantar is accessible to wheelchair users, though some instruments are on platforms up a few stairs.
How to Get There
The Jantar Mantar is right next to the City Palace, in the heart of Jaipur’s Pink City and a quick walk from the Hawa Mahal. It’s easiest to reach this sight on foot or by rickshaw, because the traffic in this part of the city is often heavy. The Pink City is about a half-hour from Amber (Amer) and five hours from Delhi.
When to Get There
The Jantar Mantar is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm, and visitors often come here after touring the City Palace next door. However, you may want to visit the Jantar Mantar first thing in the morning, before the City Palace, to avoid the midday sun. If possible, try to go on a clear day, as the instruments won't work well when there's heavy cloud cover.
Many Types of Sundial
People usually picture a sundial as the horizontal type commonly seen in gardens. However, they come in other forms, from polar sundials that are lined up with the rotational axis of the earth to portable shepherd's dials, used to measure the height of the sun over the horizon. The Samrat Yantra in the Jantar Mantar is a spherical sundial and is among the world's most precise, with a shadow moving at 1 millimeter per second.