The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some twenty main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. The Jantar Mantar is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period. The Jantar Mantar observatory in Jaipur constitutes the most significant and best preserved set of fixed monumental instruments built in India in the first half of the 18th century; some of them are the largest ever built in their categories. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. The observatory forms part of a tradition of Ptolemaic positional astronomy which was shared by many civilizations. It contributed by this type of observation to the completion of the astronomical tables of Zij. It is a late and ultimate monumental culmination of this tradition. Through the impetus of its creator, the prince Jai Singh II, the observatory was a meeting point for different scientific cultures, and gave rise to widespread social practices linked to cosmology. It was also a symbol of royal authority, through its urban dimensions, its control of time, and its rational and astrological forecasting capacities. The observatory is the monumental embodiment of the coming together of needs which were at the same time political, scientific, and religious.
The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is an outstanding example of the coming together of observation of the universe, society and beliefs. It provides an outstanding testimony of the ultimate culmination of the scientific and technical conceptions of the great observatory devised in the Medieval world. It bears witness to very ancient cosmological, astronomical and scientific traditions shared by a major set of Western, Middle Eastern, Asian and African religions, over a period of more than fifteen centuries.
The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is an outstanding example of a very comprehensive set of astronomical instruments, in the heart of a royal capital at the end of the Mughal period in India. Several instruments are impressive in their dimensions, and some are the largest ever built in their category.
Integrity and authenticity of Jantar Mantar
The observatory of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur has been affected by its outdoor situation in a tropical area, and then by its temporary abandonment in the 19th century, which has resulted in frequent maintenance interventions and then various restorations over a period of more than a century. Nevertheless, the general integrity of the site has been essentially maintained and partially restored. On the other hand, establishing the authenticity of each individual instrument is more complex, as a result of the many interventions which have taken place. While authenticity is generally unquestionable with regard to the astronomical function, it is more difficult to establish with regard to plasters, instrument graduations, some architectural interpretations and the immediate landscape environment of elements of the property.
Protection and management measures
The Jantar Mantar is protected under the Rajasthan Monuments Archaeological Site and Antiquities Act, 1961, under Sections 3 and 4.
It was designated a monument of national importance in 1968. The main challenges for the property, which could potentially represent a threat, are controlling the development of tourism, and allowing for urban development in the immediate vicinity of the Jantar Mantar. Major projects to upgrade the district and modify traffic have been announced, and these may affect the buffer zone, and more generally the landscape and cultural environment of the property. It is in particular necessary to specify the measures taken to protect the buffer zone, and to include these measures in the upcoming Master Plan of the municipality of Jaipur. The system for the management of the property is appropriate, provided that it includes a genuinely overarching management body and provided that the Management Plan is promulgated. Furthermore, it is necessary to strengthen the scientific expertise of the bodies in charge of managing the property.