What appears to be a bizarre sculpture garden in the middle of central New Delhi is in fact a rudimentary astronomical observatory dating back to 1724. Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur took a great interest in astronomy. He believed that the small observational tools of the time were inaccurate, so he constructed a series of 13 terracotta-colored instruments in a large, open-air observatory, the first of five he’d build during his lifetime.
Jantar Mantar is dominated by a large sundial, called Samrat Jantar, shooting 90 feet (27 meters) into the air. Other instruments in the park were used to predict the monsoons, show the sun’s position during the equinox, determine the shortest and longest days of the year and measure the altitude of the stars.
If you’re planning to travel on to Jaipur, it’s better to save your visit for the larger and better preserved Jantar Mantar Jai Singh II built in his home land. Otherwise, the historic site is well worth a visit during your explorations of Delhi’s new town.