The Delhi Jantar Mantar is an enigma. Its huge and arresting forms evoke awe even today when architecture seems to consist primarily of strange shapes and proportions. Most people who see it are left with many questions.
- What is it really?
- Why is it called Jantar Mantar? Is it linked to the performance of some mystical religious rites?
- How were its gigantic structures made?
- Do they form part of a maze? Are they forerunners of abstract art installations?
- Or are they buildings? If so, what is this strange architectural style, so different from the other buildings of its time?
- How, if at all, is it linked to astronomy?
This informative history and field guide explains all this and more. Based on over a decade of extensive research, it uses archival images, photographs, drawings and sketches, to unravel how the 300 year old Jantar Mantar Observatory looked and worked in the past.
Each instrument of the Jantar Mantar is explained separately as a guided ‘walk’. The book includes information on traditional Indian astronomy, and on the political and cultural background of this ‘royal observatory’ established by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. It not only traces its transformation into ‘an archaeological monument’, but also charts the way ahead by which the Delhi Jantar Mantar’s historical function may be revived and conserved for future generations.
Carry this book to the Jantar Mantar and walk around the instruments with it. Or read it before and after your visit to understand one of the world’s most unusual and intriguing works of architecture.
Price: INR 680 (shipping charges by courier within India additional as per actuals) and USD 18 (shipping charges by airmail additional as per actuals)
Also available at the following Bookshops:
The BookShop, Jor Bagh;
The Shop, Regal Arcade,Connaught Place;
The People Tree, Regal Arcade, Connaught Place
Excerpts from Review in Journal of Landscape Architecture, Issue 37, 2012, pp. 112-3, by Meghal Arya, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, Gujarat.
‘Anisha Shekhar Mukherji’s book…focuses on the Delhi Jantar Mantar…choosing to delve into one thoroughly rather than adding to the line of overviews that exist…and brings them into the realm of social and human relations by researching on the context of the observatories.
…But perhaps the most important aspect of Mukherji’s book is the simple manner in which she clearly explains the working of the various dials and instruments…Mukherji writes in a fluent style that is easy to read and grasp. It is an important aspect of a book that is well researched, with an objective to maximize the dissemination of the knowledge, to bring it within the public realm, taking it out of the territory of specialization.
…The book exists in layers. It has the potential of being read almost as a non-fiction novel to a scholar using it as a basis for further research…The book systematically dismantles the indoctrination of the superiority of the ‘western rational scientific’ systems as it proves, through systematic and meticulous research the availability of accurate and well-established methods of recording solar time and other readings in the observatory at Delhi.’
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