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he had formed of accuracy, because of the smallness of their size, the want of division into minutes, the shaking and wearing of their axes, the displacement of the centres of the circles, and the shifting of the planes of the instruments, he concluded that the reason why the determinations of the ancients, such as Hipparchus and Ptolemy, proved inaccurate, must have been of this kind. Therefore, he constructed, in Dar ul Kheláfet Shah Jehanabad, which is the seat of empire and prosperity, instruments of his own invention, such as Jeypergás, and Rám Junter, and Semrát Junter,—the semi-diameter of which is of eighteen cubits, and one minute on it is a barleycorn and a half,—of stone and lime, of perfect stability, with attention to the rules of geometry, and adjustment to the meridian, and to the latitude of the place, and with care in the measuring and fixing of them, so that the inaccuracies from the shaking of the circles, and the wearing of their axes, and displacement of their centres, and the inequality of the minutes, might be corrected. Thus an accurate method of constructing an Observatory was established; and the difference which had existed between the computed and observed places of the fixed stars and planets, by means of observing their mean motions and aberrations with such instruments, was removed. And, in order to confirm the truth of these observations, he constructed instruments of the same kind (as those constructed in the observatory at Delhi) in Suvai Jeypore, and Mattra, and Benares, and Oujein. When he compared these observatories, after allowing for the difference of longi
tude between the places where they stood, the observations and calculations agreed.” " He found the calculation to agree perfectly with the observation. And, although, even to this day the business of the Observatory is carried on, a table under the name of His Majesty, the shadow of God, comprehending the most accurate rules and most perfect methods of computation, was constructed; that so, when the places of the stars, and the appearance of the new moons, and the eclipses of the sun and moon, and the conjunctions of the heavenly bodies, are computed by it, they may arrive as near as possible to the truth, which, in fact, is every day seen and confirmed in the Observatory."
Such is the account of the erection of the Benares Observatory and the invention of its instruments, written by the native astronomer himself, whose genius planned and carried out this important enterprise. Some of the instruments are of gigantic size, and are built of strong masonry capable of lasting for ages, and yet of such delicate adjustment as, for the most part, to continue serviceable according to the original purpose of their designer. But little use, I fear, is now made of them, beyond the calculation of eclipses, festival days, horoscopes, and other matters of practical interest to the people. Many Europeans passing through Benares visit this famous Observatory; and, doubtless, the Brahman in charge of it reaps a considerable harvest thereby. One would naturally suppose, that, if not the celebrity of the place, at least the emoluments which they derive from European and other
sight-seers, would be an inducement to the Brahmans to keep the building and its instruments in repair, and so prevent them from falling into decay; but they seem to be utterly careless on these points, and are allowing the hot sun and the drenching rains of summer to play upon exquisitely enamelled surfaces, the parts of which are divided and subdivided into regular distances with the nicest accuracy, without attempting to restore the breaches in the mortar, and to keep the instruments from injury.
On entering the Observatory, the first instrument you come to is the Bhittiyantra, or Mural Quadrant, which consists of a wall, eleven feet high, and nine feet one and a quarter inches broad, in the plane of the meridian. By this instrument the sun's altitude and zenith distance, at noon, may be ascertained; and, also, the sun's greatest declination, and the latitude of the place. Not far distant are two large circles, one built of stone, the other of lime; and also a large square, built of stone. These may, perhaps, have been used for the purpose of ascertaining the shadow of the gnomon cast by the sun, and the degrees of azimuth; but all the marks upon them are obliterated.
There is an enormous instrument, called Yantrasamrát (or prince of instruments), whose wall is thirtysix feet in length, and four and a half feet in breadth, and is set in the plane of the meridian. One extremity is six feet four and a quarter inches high, and the other, twenty-two feet three and a half inches, sloping gradually upwards, so as to point directly to the north pole. By the aid of this instrument, the distance