Jantar Mantar – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

22.10.2017:

11.15 hrs – The place started to get crowded as more and more tourists are venturing out to have a look at the City Palace. I headed towards yet another important structure in the heart of the city which is in contrast with the intricate carvings and the ornate pols or gates of the City Palace – The Jantar Mantar. The entry ticket costs Rs. 50/- for Indians! Grabbing my ticket, I walked towards this most impressive and fascinating astrological marvel, which is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of medieval India. In 2010, Jantar Mantar has been granted the UNESCO World Heritage Site Status.

Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who is fond of astronomy and used to study works of celebrated astronomers all over the world constructed a range of astronomical observatories throughout North India in between 1724 and 1730, called the ‘Jantar Mantars’. Out of the five Jantar Mantars in Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura (which no longer exists), the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is the largest one. In fact, it is said that some of the instruments here in Jaipur are constructed by him and he constructed it so near to the City Palace so that he can make all the observations by his own!

The term ‘Jantar Mantar’ is derived from the Sanskrit terms ‘Yantra’ and ‘Mantra’ meaning ‘instruments’ and ‘formula’ respectively. I hired a guide here who knows a lot about the instruments present here. Jantar Mantar is a collection of 19 fixed architectural astronomical instruments that offer precise measurements of time, the azimuth, declination of the sun and the positions of constellations, along with several other astronomical phenomena.

I came across the Nadivalaya (the equatorial instrument), the Krantivritta (the ecliptic circle instrument) used to measure the longitude and latitudes of the celestial bodies, the Laghu Samrat Yantra (Small sundial), Shastana Yantra (sextant instrument) with which the variation in the sun’s diameter can be accurately measured and many more. But the centre of attraction here is the Vrihat Samrat Yantra (the ‘Supreme Instrument’ or Large Sundial), which is 90 ft high and measures time to an accuracy of two seconds is the world’s largest sundial.

My guide explained me about each and every instrument with perfect examples and I was awestruct when he explained me about calculating the time on Laghu Samrat Yantra and asked me to check the time he told on my watch and to my sheer surprise, it’s accurate! So far, I found Jantar Mantar as the most significant, comprehensive, and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. And people who are interested in astronomy, here is your best bet if you want a scientific holiday 😉

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Radhe.. Radhe

Day 2:

By the title itself many of you might have guessed what this post is going to be.. No trip to Agra from Delhi would be complete without a visit to the two beautiful places Mathura and Vrindavan. And we decided the other day itself that we will visit these two places also. We started our journey to Vrindavan from Agra and it was still raining.

After an hour’s journey we were onto a roadway leading to Vrindavan. The places along the roadway are beautiful and serene villages, covered with lush green paddy fields and other millet. The cloud covered grey sky, the lush green cover on the earth, and the drizzle made the scene more perfect. We crossed the villages and were out into the Vrindavan. It is a small town with many activities going around.

We asked a few people how to reach the famous Bankey Bihari Temple and the people, mostly the Pundits (who are like the local guides) helped in locating the temple. The road leading to the temple is very narrow and is potholed. We could see a lot of people walking barefoot enchanting the Krishna mantra and not bothered about the drizzle. Our driver stopped the car at a decent distance from the temple as there is no way of us reaching the temple in a car.

We got down and started walking towards the temple. The sideways of the walkway are full of shacks selling the famous Agra Peta, the Mathura Peda and other sweets, a few selling the idols of the deities and toys etc. As it was Saturday and a weekend, the roads were insanely crowded and there was a long queue of people infront the temple. There is no need of us to walk, as we would automatically flow with the crowd 😉

The interesting thing is there were lots of human-pulled rickshaws, bicycles and local people on these streets and no one honks a horn or rings a bell. They simple say “Radhe-Radhe” 🙂 🙂 (now you might understood the reason behind the title of this post) indicating us to move aside 🙂 :). While I was on this road, it was almost as if I were in a trance.  There was something in the place, in the air, in the people which attracts us instantaneously. Might be it is truly the presence of the Almighty 🙂

It started raining heavily while we were still waiting in the queue to enter the temple. The temple is located in an interior part and it was pretty crowded. We entered the main hall which is decorated with fresh flowers and colorful drapes. A mix of fragrance from the flowers and the incense sticks filled the room and the chants of “Hare Krishna” were echoing. Though we tried clicking some photos, we couldn’t as photography was strictly prohibited inside the temple.

There was a barricade separating the idols and the pilgrims and we were allowed till the barricade to have a peek at the deities Radha and Krishna and many of the pilgrims were offered sweets and seek the blessings from the Pundits. The rain turned into a heavy downpour and the roads were filled with water up our knee-level. All of a sudden the roads turned dirty, people struggled to pull out their vehicles in the water. Though we thought of managing with the only umbrella which we carried along, it wasn’t of much use and we started forgot about getting drenched and started enjoying the rain and our walk which almost seemed like a swim 🙂 😀

Soon we were at our car and resumed our journey to Mathura. On the way to Mathura we were able to see the Prem Mandir which was huge and lit by colourful lights. As it was raining heavily and we don’t have much time, we thought of visiting only Krishna Janmabhoomi and started moving towards it. But to our bad luck, there was a jam and the traffic was packed upto kilometers. The time was around 6.30 and we still have a long way to go, to reach Delhi and it was raining badly. So we were left with no other options rather than saying – some other time 🙂 🙂

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We hit the Yamuna Express way after a wait of an hour and half in the traffic and stopped for some food in the mid-way at Pizzahut though we didn’t eat any except a Gulab Jamoon on the Haldiram’s outlet beside it 😉 🙂 It was 11.30 by the time we reached our room and soon retired to our beds.

P.S – I couldn’t take any pictures of this place as it was raining heavily and was too crowded to stand itself 😦