It was one of the hottest days I have experienced :115 degrees Fahrenheit. Anjula and I sat at a table about as big as a dinner plate drinking heavily iced lime juice, dosed with sugar, salt and soda water. Around us were surreal structures, all very neat and precise, which seemed so very un-Indian to me at the time. Everything I saw up until I visited Jaipur was more chaotic than precise; not this place. I understood, then, how the nation could have produced so many fine engineers.
The Jantar Mantar monument ( Bing’s Opening Page photo on Eclipse Day–but they made a mistake: Jantar Mantar is in Jaipur NOT New Delhi) is a courtyard filled with about six or seven constructions that allow observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. The structures–spherical, inclined, round– are made of masonry, stone and brass that follow design principles of ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts. Anjula told me Astrology is very important in Hindu society for investing money and for arranging marriages.
A huge sundial tells the time in Jaipur local time. It was quite amazing to watch time pass via a shadow; it moved a hand’s width every minute The Giant Sundial, known as the Samrat Yantra (The Supreme Instrument) is one of the world’s largest time measuring devices.