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Jantar Mantar
Charting the heavens
Jantar Mantar is the name of five astronomical observatories, built in the early 18th century by Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II in North India. Jai Singh, who was passionately interested in astronomy, had discovered that there were major errors in the ancient astronomical tables being used in India at that time. As these were consulted not only by astrologers, but also for fixing the dates for land revenue collection, he decided to compile a new, more accurate table based on observations obtained from astronomical instruments. He sent astronomical expeditions to Persia, Central Asia and later even to Portugal in order to increase his knowledge. After rejecting the small brass instruments and their enlarged versions, he settled for huge stone and masonry instruments. The ingenious and elegant solutions found while designing these new instruments represent an architectural vision that anticipates 20th Century modern architecture.

A voice over, as well as Professor S. R. Sharma, an authority on Indian scientific instruments, recount the origin and functioning of the instruments. Miniature paintings, images of ancient texts and diagrams in Arabic and Sanskrit, accompanied by classical North Indian music are inter-cut with images of astronomical instruments.
International documentary film festival, Bombay, 2000.

28 minutes


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