Jantar Mantar is about to change colour. When an ongoing conservation and restoration project is complete, the red 18th century observatory will be sparkling white, like it originally was.
Anisha Shekhar Mukherji, a conservation architect involved with the restoration, says, “Originally the monument was white. It was in the early 1970s that the present brick-red colour was used. We plan to restore the outer layers with lime plaster.”
Khorshed Italia, an 88-year-old resident of Connaught Place, remembers this. “It was white when I was very young,” she says. “Later I remember it to be a shade of pink. Some decades back it was painted brick red.”
Dr N. Rathnashree, director of Nehru Planetarium, says, “During daytime usage, we look at the sun’s shadow. It will always be sharper on a plain white surface.”
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) superintending archaeologist K.K. Muhammad confirms that old photos in ASI archives indicate that the monument was white when built.