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New gate, facade, interpretation centre in Jantar Mantar revamp

Sep 22, 2023 02:01 AM IST

Bheem Singh Rawat, conservation assistant at Jantar Mantar, said the interpretation centre will help visitors understand the history of the various instruments.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has set up new features at the Jantar Mantar observatory in the Capital, with a redeveloped entrance area and a new gate, along with a spruced up façade, revamped colonial barracks at the site, and an interpretation centre.

The Jantar Mantar, constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1710, comprises various instruments. (Raj K Raj/ HT Photo)
The Jantar Mantar, constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1710, comprises various instruments. (Raj K Raj/ HT Photo)

Bheem Singh Rawat, conservation assistant at Jantar Mantar, said the interpretation centre will help visitors understand the history and functioning of the various instruments at the observatory, and added that the decision to prepare the centre was taken ahead of the recently concluded G20 Summit.

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“The interpretation centre or the museum will help visitors make sense of the history and functioning of various instruments at the site. The centre includes archival images of the observatory with detailed documentation,” said Rawat.

READ | New panel for Delhi’s Jantar Mantar revamp: ASI

He said the centre will be expanded further and a publication counter will also come up at the site. “Books and information booklets containing information about the monument will be put up at the publication counter. Through this initiative, visitors will be able to get an in-depth understand of the history of the monument,” Rawat said.

The Jantar Mantar, constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1710, comprises various instruments such as the Samrat Yantra (the largest structure within the complex, which was used to measure the time of the day and declination of the sun), the Jai Prakash Yantra (used to observe the position of the sun, stars, and the planets), Ram Yantra (used to observe the position of any celestial object by aligning an object in the sky with the top of the central pillar), and the Misra Yantra (structure made of four instruments).

READ | ASI to launch repair, restoration of Jantar Mantar

All these instruments will get a facelift, starting with a fresh layer of terracotta paint. To be sure, the instruments are not in a working position at present, and in February, the Delhi high court had directed ASI to furnish details on the existing status of their functionality.

In April, ASI informed the Delhi high court that it had appointed an expert committee for the conservation, preservation, restoration, and to ensure the proper functioning of the Jantar Mantar observatory. Members of the panel, who first met in July, laid emphasis on the need for conservation and directed that comprehensive documentation of all structures is undertaken before initiation of conservation.

ASI has also reworked the colonial barracks at the site and has utilised them as booking counters. The outline of the various instruments will also be carved on the front area of the complex, close to the ticket counters. “We have redeveloped the colonial barracks into a booking counter. The gates also bear an impression of the observatory. The courtyard outside the complex will also be engraved with images of the Ram Yantra,” said Rawat.

In addition, visitor facilities such as a baby-care room will also be established soon, with ASI looking to illuminate the observatory by next month. “People will be able to see the lit-up instruments from outside as well,” said Rawat.

Praveen Singh, superintending archaeologist at ASI Delhi Circle, had earlier told HT that the ASI will undertake detailed documentation at the site in the first phase of conservation.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Sadia Akhtar is a reporter at Hindustan Times where she covers education, heritage, and a range of feature stories. She also writes about refugee communities and tracks stories at the intersection of gender and social justice. Before joining HT's Delhi team, she reported from Gurugram and Mewat where she tracked politics, education, and heritage.

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