The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre, Archaeological Survey of India and New Delhi Municipal Council on a PIL seeking direction to them to restore the pristine glory of ‘Jantar Mantar’, the 18th Century observatory built in Delhi by Raja Jai Singh II of Jaipur.
A Bench headed by Justice BN Agrawal asked the Centre, ASI and NDMC to respond to the petition filed by advocate Ravindra Nath Sharma, who alleged that ‘Jantar Mantar’ was currently in utter shambles for lack of proper upkeep and maintenance.
There was an urgent need to restore the observatory since it reflected the country's rich scientific heritage prevailing, he submitted.
Despite its poor condition, the observatory is thronged even today by thousands of research scholars not only all from the country but also from several other foreign nations; and most of them are dismayed at its present plight.
The petitioner submitted that he decided to approach the court after innumerable complaints and representations made to various authorities in the last two decades including the President APJ Abdul Kalam, no action was taken by the government to restore the observatory to its working condition.
Sharma also requested the court to direct the authorities to remove all obstructions that caused hindrance in the working of the observatory.
Raja Jai Singh II of Jaipur built the Jantar Mantar in 1710 in Delhi. This is an observatory consisting of mason-built astronomical instruments to chart the course of the heavens.
Jai Singh (1699-1743), who was a scholarly king with a keen interest in astronomy and astrology, had other observatories built too – in Ujjain, Jaipur, Mathura (which no longer survives) and Varanasi. The first among these was ‘Jantar Mantar’ in Delhi. The yantras (instruments, which has been distorted to Jantar) are built of brick rubble and plastered with lime.
The yantras have evocative names like, samrat yantra, jai prakash, ram yantra and niyati chakra; each of which are used to for various astronomical calculations.