Sun Dialing the Skies at Jantar Mantar in Jaipur | India


Situated within the old city of Jaipur near the City Palace and Hawa Mahal is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jantar Mantar. Named after the words "yantra", which in Sanskrit means "instrument", and "mantrana" meaning "to calculate", the Jantar Mantar is an equinoctial sundial that measures the time of the day and the declination of the sun and the rest of the celestial sphere.

Sara Abdollahi

There are five Jantar Mantars built all over India during early 18th century—four of it remains to this day—with the one in Jaipur housing the world's biggest stone sundial. A total of 19 architectural astronomical instruments was placed inside the Jantar Mantar complex in Jaipur during its construction from 1728 to 1738 under the reign of Rajput Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II.

Charisse Vilchez

When the main observatory of the heavenly bodies was transferred from Delhi to Jaipur, the number of astronomers who worked at this site peaked to 23. It continued to become the Rajput Kingdom's main observatory until the death of Singh II in 1743.

Alyanna Bromeo

Of the four existing Jantar Mantars in Jaipur, Delhi, Varanasi, New Ujjain, this site is considered as among the most prominent because it has the most number of instruments and the world’s largest sundial.


Sophie Gianan, Koryn Iledan and Levy Amosin

Each of the structural planetary instruments measures celestial positions using the method of “Ptolemaic positional astronomy" used by many older civilizations. It used to supply accurate readings before towering modern buildings blocked the view of the nighttime sky.


Vrihat Smarat Yantra: The World's Biggest Sundial

Occupying the center spot of the Jantar Mantar is a sundial and its gigantic gnomon standing 90 feet high. The "gnomon" is part of a sundial that provides measurement of the sun's position through the shadow it casts.

Astrid Alvarez, Celine Murillo and Gretchen Filart

The Vrihat Smarat Yantra is said to measure time in intervals of a couple of seconds using the shadow casted by the gnomon from the sunlight.

Audrey Trinidad

Walking around the Jantar Mantar compound in Jaipur is like being inside a museum where astronomical instruments are displayed. Only in this case, each apparatus appears in a variety of architectural structural forms, each having their own interesting patterns and designs intricately thought out to match the movements of stellar objects in the sky.

Ayi Del Rosario

Some of the architectural planetary devices that arrested my attention the most are the Laghu Smarat Yantra, which is appear like a stair but is actually a ramp pointed towards the North Pole used to calculate time up to the accuracy of 20 seconds.  

Sandra Santiago

Then there's the Ram Yantra, which is like a giant wheel lying on the ground surrounded by pillars in circular formation. It is used to measure the azimuth and elevation of the sun and other planets.

Jomie Naynes and Muffet Sta Maria

On the photo below, I am shown standing in front of the Nadivalaya Yantra, a structure composed of two sundials facing the south and north hemispheres. It is used to measure time up to an accuracy of less than one minute.

Marky Ramone Go

Another interesting instrument is the Jaya Prakash Yantra. It is a hemispherical bowls made of marble slabs used to measure positions of heavenly bodies by the hour. 

Camille Baria

Just to name a few, each instrument provided me with a new kind of learning and understanding of ancient astronomy and its practitioners who despite without the use of modern equipment, have managed to come up with a more thought-provoking way of studying and measuring the inter-stellar objects in the sky.