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Sawai Jai Singh II
At the entrance to the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the 'Yantralaya' of
Sawai Jai Singh II, the last great classical astronomer in India. The modernistic structures known as 'Yantras' are the unique creations of this astronomer-king designed by him and built by experts to observe the movements of sun, moon, planets and the stars.
The observatory at Jaipur has the samrat yantra, the jaiprakash
yantra, ram yantra and the 'composite instrument' includes a sundial and a massive hemisphere on the northern wall.
India, in the early decades of the 18th century was a land to turmoil, the
Mughal empire was collapsing, its chiefs were busy in internal quarrels, and the Marathas, Portuguese, British, French and Dutch were fighting for the over lordship of India's trade and political fortunes. In this age arose a brilliant star on India's political and intellectual horizon - Maharaja
Sawai Jai Singh II, Rajput ruler of Amber, founder of Jaipur, a great builder and ruler and an exceptional astronomer.
Commissioned by Emperor Muhammad Shah, to correct the existing astronomical tables and fix planetary positions anew,
Sawai Jai Singh-II, accomplished the task in seven years and for this task, built the first stone observatory in Delhi in 1724 and in
Jaipur in 1728. Not only did the masonry instruments suit his purposes, they also satisfied his architectural instincts. Apart from being a permanent memorial to his genius, is secured for him a place along with such distinguished observatory builders like Prince
Ulugh Beg, Tycho Brahe and John Flam steed.
Under the instigation of Emperor Muhammed Shah, Sawai Jai Singh II was given the extra ordinary task of correcting the anomalies of the astronomical chart. Not only did he accomplish the task successfully but his brilliant astronomical mind provided him with his place in the sun alongside some of the world's greatest observatory designers like
Ulug Beg and John Flamsteed.
If historical records are any indicators, it is believed that Sawai Jai Singh had sent his emissaries all across the world in his bid to accumulate as much state-of-the-art information pertaining to astronomy as he possibly could, prior to the construction of
Jantar Mantar. From a labyrinth of guides and booklets on astronomy,
Sawai Jai Singh chooses to build his observatory in accordance to the renowned La Hire's Table.