The Indian Institute of Astrophysics is a premier institute devoted to research in astronomy, astrophysics and related physics. It traces its origins back to an observatory set up in 1786 at Madras which from the year 1792 began to formally function at its Nungambakkam premises as the Madras Observatory. In 1899, the observatory moved to Kodaikanal. In the year 1971, the Kodaikanal Observatory became an autonomous society, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. The headquarters were shifted to Bengaluru into its present campus in Koramangala in 1975. Today, funded by the Department of Science and Technology, the Institute ranks as a premier institution devoted to research and education of astronomy and physics in the country. The main observing facilities of the Institute are located at Kodaikanal, Kavalur,Gauribidanur and Hanle.
The Kodaikanal Observatory has for over a century been the principal centre of activity in observational solar and atmospheric physics. The Vainu Bappu Observatory at Kavalur has been the main optical observatory of the Institute for nighttime astronomy since the late 1960s. There are several telescopes in operation here, the foremost among these being the 2.34 metre Vainu Bappu Telescope. The Gauribidanur Radio Observatory has a decametre wave radio telescope array and a radioheliograph.
The new high altitude Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) at Hanle in south-eastern Ladakh has augmented the facilities for nighttime astronomy. Here, a 2 metre Himalayan Chandra Telescope has been installed in 2001. A seven-unit High Altitude Gamma Ray (HAGAR) telescope is in operation at the Hanle site.