Sunday, December 9, 2007

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru, -The Legendary Lost City

machu picchu, peru the legendary lost city of machu picchu is one among the new seven wonders of the worldView of Huayna Picchu towering above the ruins of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (means old peak in the local language) is the most amazing remnants of the Inca Empire and great civilization that engulfed the whole of South America. It is located in the Eastern Slope of the Andes Mountain overlooking the Urubamba River-Valley about 70 kilometer north-west of the Peruvian town Cusco. The site is 7000 feet above sea-level and consists of temples, giant walls, pathways, gardens, ramps and remnants of buildings and halls all built on the terraces made on mountain slopes. It is estimated that its construction took place in 1450 AD by the Inca Emperor Pacha Cuti. The total area of the site is five sq km.

No script; not even wheels; yet!

There are altogether about 140 constructions in this site; all made of shaped and polished stones so tightly packed leaving no gaps between them. All these structures were made by the Incas who did not know about wheels and carts. They did not even have a script hence written statements regarding these works or the technology they adopted is not available. As these works are done on mountain slopes and more than hundred steps to connect them; all cut in stone. Remnants of fountains used to irrigate garden-plants, and vents for the disposal of waste and storm-water; all made of stones!

What purpose?

machu picchu, peru the legendary lost city of machu picchu is one among the new seven wonders of the worldMachu Picchu Temple of the Sun

Differences of opinion exist among experts regarding the purpose of all these constructions in the slope of a remote mountain; all surrounded by dense tropical forests. There was human inhabitation in this ‘lost city’ from its construction on 1440 till 1532 and about 750 people resided here. One of the opinions is that; it was the hiding place for high-profile leaders in the events of any attack, it also is considered as the capital to manage the economic affairs of Inca regions occupied by the Spanish. A more credible one is this that it was only a retreat for the Royal and influential ones of the society. Whatever be the case this site was never found by the invading Spanish, even the outside world come to know about it only in the 20th century!

The Inca Empire and its civilization,

machu picchu, peru the legendary lost city of machu picchu is one among the new seven wonders of the world The Intihuatana ("sun-tier") is believed to have been designed as an astronomic clock by the Incas

The Inca Empire originated as a small tribal village in 1197 under the tribal chief Manco Capac; with the city of Cuzco (also spelt Cusco) as its base; it later grew to an empire with a unique culture under Pacha Cuti by 1438 to embrace the whole of Latin America. The people followed a Pagan path and the main goddess of Incas was ‘Pacha mama’ along with it the Incas worshiped numerous gods including the Sun God. Their main language was Quechus.

The Incas excelled in architecture -as seen in the Machu Picchu-; they had an advanced treatment methods (conducted surgery using Cocoa leaf as sedative). This noble culture believed in rebirths and its moral standing was based on three fundamental principles, they were ama suwa, ama llulla, ama quella; meaning don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy. The beginning of the end of a great culture and an empire was with arrival of Francisco Pizzaro the Spanish invader who came in search of gold and got far more than what he had bargained- a whole empire!


The whole ‘city’ of Machu Picchu (also spelt Machu Picchu) consisted of three blocks; one of the three portions was for temple and priests; the main and central portion of it was the ‘Intihuatana’ a shrine for the Sun-God made of shining black granite. It is believed that this temple is constructed in alignment with astronomical positions. The second was for the intellectuals and the influential ones well made with more amenities. The third portion is believed to be for prisoners and remnants equipments to hold them in captivity are visible. As the Mach Picchu site was never discovered by the Spanish and there is no evidence that the Spanish was behind its destruction.

Unsung explorers!

machu picchu, peru the legendary lost city of machu picchu is one among the new seven wonders of the worldMachu Picchu Seven Wonders of the World

One interesting fact about this site is that the modern world come to know about its existence only very recently when Hiram Bingham a historian and lecturer in the Yale University ‘discovered’ the site in 28th July 1911.There are many citations regarding numerous people seen this site, but it was Mr. Bingham who actually presented a comprehensive report to the outside world. He has even written a book about this location titled ‘The Legendary Lost City’. It was a pity that he had not mentioned anything about the local persons who led him to the site; just remarked ‘local rumors’ led him.

Yale v/s Peru and some rare things,

Mr. Bingham has done one more thing; he traveled throughout the area and collected whatever artifacts he could collect and deposited at the Yale University Museum; this lead to an Ownership dispute between the government of Peru and the university. As a result University of Yale returned a portion of the artifacts to the Government of Peru and in a final settlement reached in 2007 the rest have been agreed to be returned. At present these rare artifacts are safe in the Museum of Yale. What will happen to them after some years of the handing over remains to be seen, let’s be optimistic!

From Heritage to Endangered!

machu picchu, peru the legendary lost city of machu picchu is one among the new seven wonders of the worldView of Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu

The Machu Picchu site has turned out to be a hot tourist destination and about 400,000 tourists visit the site every year. This heavy influx has created problems with the remnants and its environments. The Peru government in its greed to collect maximum revenue has started giving permission to construct hotels and resorts in such a delicate area! Scientists and naturalists are fighting pitched battles against the short sighted policies of the greedy government. The UNESCO in 1983 declared this site as a World Heritage Site; but things are moving in such a way to devastate the site; and it has been reported that the status of Machu Picchu will soon be downgraded as an endangered site. A fall from World Heritage Site to endangered site; what a pity!

1 comment:

DanO said...

What an amazing looking place. Thanks for the great article!