Birbal's astronomy legacy


The legendary court jester of Akbhar's court hails from the town of Kalapriya Nagari which is now known as Kalpi. The town gets its name from Sun temple which was constructed 5000 years ago. Varahamihira, the famous astronomer, one of the jewels in King Vikramaditya's court worshiped the deity here and started his studies here. The town's unique position on the bank of the river Yamuna even today makes it a favorite destination of astronomers. Astronomers from all over India gathered here to study the total solar eclipse of 1995. Rahul Merhotra, a professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Kanpur has written a brief about the checkered history of this town and the famous Sun temple here.

Records from 4th century confirm the fact that the rulers of Kannuaj took great care in supporting the temple. A visiting elephant brigade while encamping inside the large compound of the temple is known to have brought much destruction in the 9th century. However the temple remaining operational till the arrival of Lodhi rulers in the 15th century is confirmed from the writings of Persian historians. This town was an important gathering place for the 1857 freedom struggle. Fearing revenge from the British rulers the local population left the town in hordes. Despite its historical significance the town has received very little attention from the current rulers.

Drawing of Kalpi - 1859 Illustrated London News
Puranic records attest to Kalpapriya Nagari to be one of the three important Sun temples established 5000 years ago. It is time to prove the authenticity of these records with archeological support. The Archeological Department of India has its hands tied and is not able to dig at the mound site due to the political sensitivity involved in moving the small muslim colony constructed over it. The spirit of Birbal is needed more than ever now to remind the current rulers that the natives were as evolved 5000 years ago to be able to construct astronomical structures as brilliant as the Stonehenge in Britain.