The city of Ujjain has played a major role in the field of astronomy with works like Panch Siddhanta and Surya Siddhanta being penned here. Indian astronomers say that the Tropic of Cancer is supposed to pass through the city which, since 4th century BC is the country’s Greenwich. The Vedhshala or the observatory was built by Raja Jai Singh, the ruler of Amber (1614-1621), who is credited with the translation of the works of Euclid and Ptolemy from Arabic to Sanskrit. It was built to help Hindu astrologers and scholars with their studies and research; particularly the collation of astronomical tables and prediction of movements of the sun, the moon and the planets. It is one of the five observatories that were constructed in India during the 18th century by the raja; the other four are in Delhi, Mathura, Jaipur and Varanasi. The original instruments installed with the help of Raja Jai Singh include Sundial, Nadi Valay Yantra, Transit Instrument, Digyansa Yantra and Shanku Yantra. There are plaques and notice boards all over the place carrying information in both Hindi and English to explain the workings of several instruments. Also known as Vedshala, the building houses masonic instruments that are still being used to carry out research. The observatory is an architectural marvel and is a must-visit in the city.

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