Observatories of Sawai Jai Singh II

Reference work entry


Sawai Jai Singh II, Maharaja of Amber and Jaipur, constructed five observatories in the second quarter of the eighteenth century in the north Indian cities of Shahjahanabad (Delhi), Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi. Believing the accuracy of his naked-eye observations would improve with larger, more stable instruments, Jai Singh reengineered common brass instruments using stone construction methods. His applied ingenuity led to the invention of several outsize masonry instruments, the majority of which were used to determine the coordinates of celestial objects with reference to the local horizon. During Jai Singh’s lifetime, the observatories were used to make observations in order to update existing ephemerides such as the Zīj-i Ulugh Begī. Jai Singh established communications with European astronomers through a number of Jesuits living and working in India. In addition to dispatching ambassadorial parties to Portugal, he invited French and Bavarian Jesuits to visit and make use of the observatories in Shahjahanabad and Jaipur. The observatories were abandoned after Jai Singh’s death in 1743 CE. The Mathura observatory was disassembled completely before 1857. The instruments at the remaining observatories were restored extensively during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers, The State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA

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