Astrologers cry foul over renovation of world famous Jantar Mantar of Jaipur

September 21st, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by ANI  

By Lokendra Singh
Jaipur, Sep.21 (ANI): Jaipurs world famous Jantar Mantar, which is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments and literally means calculation instrument, is attracting wide public attention here following the ongoing renovation at the ancient astronomical observatory. The renovation work has not gone down well with traditional Indian astrologers.
Absence of knowledgeable and experienced astrologers in the supervisory or advisory committee is being cited as one of the reasons, which has led to the vintage historical gadgets and other aids getting disturbed in the renovation process.
A group of noted astrologers here are objecting to the renovation being carried out by the government agencies here. It is being contented that it is not up to the mark and has already caused damage.
One of the main complaints is that the concerned authorities have deployed inefficient persons for carrying out renovation. They say that these employed personnel have no basic knowledge of such aids vis-a-vis astronomy and astrology.
According to the astrologers, the workers engaged in renovation, in their haste have dislocated most of the gadgets and allied aids, thereby, giving rise to distortion of forecast in astrological calculations.
Astrologers complain that novice workers have upset accuracy, which prevailed for hundreds of years.
“In 1901, Jantar Mantar was renovated. But that time a council of astrologers was involved in the renovation. It was done under the supervision of the group of astrologers. Now, they have fiddled with the instruments on their own which they shouldn”t have done as such this dislocation of gadgets can have a negative effect on the future calculations,” said Pandit Akhilesh Sharma, an astrologer in Jaipur.
Jantar Mantar is an open-air observatory complex of astronomical gadgets and was built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the second. He constructed a total of five such labs at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest of these.
These gadgets play a key role, as the reflections of the Moon are studied at night and the Sun by day based on which astrologers compute their forecasts.
“When Maharaja Jai Singh made this Jantar Mantar the main purpose was to improve astrology in India. We monitor all planets through equipments of Jantar Mantar. At night, we monitor through the positioning of the Moon and at daytime, by the Sun. So they should not fiddle with the instruments,” said Satish Shastri, a visitor.
Meanwhile, the authorities say that the site was in a bad condition and needed immediate renovation as the allied aids were becoming brittle with the mortar peeling off and also the glass coverings of the gadgets were damaged.
Superintendent Archaeologist of Jantar Mantar, however, did not comment on the displacement of the instruments, which could cause distorted and garbled calculations.
“We started renovating in January 2007. The reason we renovated is because these instruments were becoming brittle, breaking and they were on the verge to collapse. The cemented plaster was coming off and glasses were breaking. Therefore, we replaced and rectified the damages. Besides we have broadened the pathway for the convenience of visitors who throng the place. We”ve also installed drinking water facility, which provides pure and cool drinking water for the visitors,” said Pandit O. P. Sharma, Superintendent Archaeologist of the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur.
The Department of Archaeology, Government of Rajasthan has spent around 10 million rupees in renovating Jantar Mantar.
Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments and it literally means calculation instrument.
The observatory consists of 14 major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemeredes.
Each is a fixed and ”focused” tool. The Samrat Jantar, the largest instrument, is 90 feet (27 m) high, its shadow carefully plotted to tell the time of day. Its face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur. The Hindu chhatri (small domed cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons.
Built of local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining; bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed. Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948. (ANI)

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