In 2010, Jaipur’s astronomical experiment ground, Jantar Mantar, with what many referred as the “world’s largest sundial” was inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage. The world’s largest sundial Vrihat Samrat Yantra was said to provide time with an accuracy of 2 seconds. Built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734 as one of the five Jantar Mantars (Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain, Mathura) in India, Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar was used to observe the movement of the sun, moon and planets, and compile astronomical tables.
We are no astronomical experts, but were curious to check out the 18th century observatory. Even without any astronomical knowledge, the splendid instruments can be appreciated purely for their physical beauty and historic values. From Amber Fort, it took us a while to bargain with different tuk tuk driver to take us back with the same price that we paid in the morning. In Jaipur, we get off at the entrance of Jantar Mantar, directly across the street from the City Palace.
The moment we entered the compound, we were immediately overwhelmed by the sight of the huge sundial, Vrihat Samrat Yantra.
Right by the entrance, we started from something much smaller, the Unnatamsa Yantra, an instrument to measure the altitude of celestial bodies.
After several smaller instruments, we arrived at the biggest of them all, the Vrihat Samrat Yantra.
With 27m (88 ft) in height, Vrihat Samrat Yantra literally means the “king of all instruments”.
Its shadow moves visibly 1mm per second. Its face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur.
Rashi Valaya Yantra is comprised of twelve gnomon dial to measure ecliptic coordinates of stars and planets.
They were also used to measure the coordinates of the 12 constellations.
A small piece of artwork indicates the corresponding constellation.
All instruments were made of stone and marble, with astronomical scale marked on a marble lining.
It must be delightful to witness the gentle movement of shadows across the astronomical scale.
Planet study was also a popular subject at Jantar Mantar.
The last instrument we encountered was Jai Prakash Yantra.
Jai Prakash Yantra is consisted of two bowl shaped marble slabs with inverted map of the sky. it allows astronomers to move inside the slab to measure altitudes, azimuths, hour angles of celestial bodies.
The nearby Kapali Yantra is also consited of two sunken bowls with a map of the heaven carved on the bowl.
We validated our tickets and got a souvenir stamp onto our passport at the main entrance of Machu Picchu, then our guide Freddie led us into the site once again. We walked past the Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock and sat down at a terrace where Freddie gave us a talk about Machu Picchu. Then Freddie took us to the Temple of the Sun, where former Inca priests observed the sun, performed sacrifice rituals, and stored the royal mummies at the mausoleum.
Lastly, Freddie took us to the Main Temple and then Intiwatana Pyramid, a high point in Machu Picchu where the Incas studied and worshiped the stars. After some last words on the Inca astronomy, Freddie and his assistant Miguel left us to freely wander around the ruins on our own. They left for a restaurant at Aguas Calientes where the space was reserved for Peru Treks. All members of our group, including our friends, dispersed all over Machu Picchu. We decided to take a break at the entrance cafe before climbing up to the guardhouse once again to take a few more photos of Machu Picchu under the sun. At the lookout, there was a few funny looking llamas grazing the lawn. After a few minutes photographing the friendly llamas, we ventured further out for 15 minutes to see the Inca Bridge.
Back to the lookout, we saw another llama standing on a terrace behind a stone wall peeking at the passing tourists. We slowly walked back to the main entrance and hopped on a bus for Aguas Calientes, where our friends, Freddie and the entire group waited for us at the restaurant reserved for Peru Treks.
Main tourist entrance of Machu Picchu.
More tourists arrived as bus loads of people were transported from the train station at Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu.
Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock and the surrounding mountains.
Tourist in Machu Picchu.
One of Freddie’s sessions explaining the history of the lost city.
Temple of the Sun was built upon a natural rock, with the mausoleum situated underneath.
Mummy vault (royal tomb) at Temple of the Sun
Doorway to Temple of the Sun.
Damage to the stonework of the Main Temple by occasional earthquakes.
The Intihuatana stone on the top of Intiwatana Pyramid.
Terraces on the side of Intiwatana Pyramid.
View towards the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock.
Llama, Machu Picchu, Una Picchu and Huayna Picchu (mountains behind Machu Picchu).
Urubamba River down at the valley bottom.
The Inca Bridge and part of the original Inca Trail, 15 minutes walk from Machu Picchu.
Curious llama peeking out from the ruins.
Llama in the ruins.
One last classic overview of Machu Picchu before we left the site.
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Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010
1. Peru Trip 2010
2. Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3. Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4. Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5. Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6. Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru