Motorists driving on the Ring Road near Sarai Kale Khan must have admired the ‘art installation’ next to the Barapullah elevated road. But what most don’t know is that it is also a scientifically accurate sundial.
Created by sculptor Gagan Vij, the 25,000 kg metal sundial commissioned by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had to come up during the 2010 Commonwealth Games but was delayed and finished later.
The sundial, one of the biggest in the world, has been certified as scientifically accurate by NGO Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE). The experiment to find the accuracy was done by SPACE on winter solstice December 21, 2012 when they launched ‘Project Paridhi’, a citizen science project that involves using simple backyard tools to measure the circumference of the Earth.
This programme was conducted on December 21, 2012 to establish the importance of sundial as one of the scientific heritages and to replicate an ancient experiment of measuring the earth.
The experiment was conducted by SPACE along with several students and amateur astronomers. The experiment yielded a circumference accurate to within 1.5%. These calculations, as per SPACE, were done 2,300 years ago by Greek astronomer Eratosthenes.
The stylus of the sundial, which is 12.7 meters high and 24.5 meters long, is called ‘Gnomon’. It has a covering of brass plates with the engravings on the supporting flanges depicting the engravings from the coins of various civilizations from Indian History.