Man Singh Observatory is a masonry observatory situated in the Man Mandir Ghat(or Someshwar Ghat). It is one of the five existing observatories in India. Also, one of the last constructions of the ‘Astronomical Stone Age’. It was originally constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh(Man Singh), the King of Jaipur in 1710. While the Mahal was built in the 16th Century, it was restored in 1911.
The infrastructure is a mixture of Rajput(Rajasthani) and Mughal architectural styles. The eastern façade of the building faces the river Ganga. Previously working as an information center, this edifice has been digitalized and it now functions as a specialized museum by the government in 2019. It consists of audiovisuals, interactive art, music, 3D show, light show, etc. The construction of a virtual museum is complete by now. This place comes under Indian Archaeological Department. With an entry fee of just 25 INR, it gives you a virtual tour of Varanasi, its lifestyle, culture, and architecture.
The Brilliance of Ancient Indian Astronomers
The brilliance and accuracy of the ancient Indian astronomers is perfectly reflected in this observatory. The observatory is situated on the rooftop of the 300-year old Man Mahal(Palace) or Man Singh Vedshala. Some of the spectacular instruments of this place are:
- Samrat Yantra– For finding time and declination and hour angle of the heavenly bodies.
- Narivalaya Dakshinay Yantra– The use of this instrument is to know whether the heavenly bodies are in the northern or southern hemisphere; also gives time.
- Chakra Yantra– For measuring the declination of the sun, moon, and stars and their distance in time(hour angle) from the meridian.
- Digamsa Yantra– The azimuth of the heavenly bodies is known by this instrument.
- Dakshinobhitti Yantra– The altitude of the heavenly bodies when on the meridian is known by this instrument.
How to reach Man Singh Observatory?
The observatory is 4.2 km from Varanasi Junction Railway Station. You can either walk from Godowlia Chauraha towards Man Singh Ghat or directly walk up the stairs of Man Singh Ghat after crossing Dashashwamedh Ghat(if you’re approaching through ghats).