Man Mahal, popularly known as Man Mandir is located adjacent to the famous Dashashvamedh ghat at a distance of about five kilometres from the Varanasi railway station.
Man Mahal situated on the western bank of river Ganga is a beautiful example of Mughal-Rajput architecture with stone balconied windows and painted ceiling. It is famous especially for its masonry observatory. The palace was built around 1600 AD by Man Singh, the Raja of Amber and a celebrated General of the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The observatory however was added to it around 1737 AD by Sawai Jai Singh II (1686-1745 AD) who himself was a great astronomer besides being the founder of Jaipur city and a descendant of Raja Man Singh. He is credited with inventing a number of instruments, tables and formulae. The observatories that he built are popularly known as Jantar Mantar which is a derivative of the Hindi words ‘Yantra- Mantra’ meaning calculation with the help of instruments.
The plan of the observatory in the palace of Man Mahal was prepared by Jagannath, an astronomer and the work was executed by an architect from Jaipur named Sardar Mohan under the supervision of Sadashiva. The main instruments of this observatory include Samrat Yantra, Digamsa Yantra, Nadivalaya Yantra, Chakra Yantra and Dakshinottara Bhitti Yantra. These are all extremely precise in calculating time, preparing lunar and solar calendar and studying the movements, distances, angles of inclination of the stars, planets and other heavenly bodies.
In the year 1912 major restoration of the observatory was carried out by Pandit Gokul Chand Bhavan the then court astronomer under orders of Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh of Jaipur.
The observatory is open from sunrise to sunset and is a must see for all those who are interested in astronomy and science.
Sarnath - A Quest Within - Buddham Sharnam Gacchami