Sunday, 10 September 2017

An Excursion To South America: 19.Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is the epitome of all Peruvian destination and an attraction that I've finally struck off my bucket list. This ancient city was built by the Inca during the 15th century and abandoned when their empire was attacked by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Fortunately the existence of this city was never known to the early conquerors. After its desertion the city was taken over by undergrowth and centuries later (in 1911), was rediscovered by an American explorer, Hiram Bingham. Today it is one of the most visited sites in the world attracting more than a million tourists annually who have come to marvel at its architectural and engineering wonder.
Standing at 2340 m above sea level and located high up on the Andes mountains, Machu Picchu is often mistaken as the last and lost Inca city; the city the Inca sought refuge in before finally succumbing to Spanish conquest. Even though the last Inca city, Vilcabamba, was ultimately found it never surpasses Machu Picchu in fame or popularity. 
Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. It is now the priceless pride of Peru.
The city boasts of more than 600 terraces, more than 170 buildings, thousands of steps, several temples and 16 fountains. The Incas utilised thousands of stones to built their city, some being very massive and where did they get these stones? 
In the vicinity is a quarry where huge boulders provide ready materials for the city's construction. Without sophisticated machinery, iron chisels or cement, the Incas used rocks to carve rock and their skill at stone masonry defiles human imagination. It is said the stones interlocked so perfectly that even its cracks cannot be penetrated by a knife blade.
The structures remain intact despite  several earthquakes. Only the roofs which were presumably thatched were missing.

This site is remotely located requiring a few mode of transportation and a tedious hike up the mountain to visit it. The reward is however greater than the pains especially when the whole city comes into full view after a tiring ascent.
Having the whole city before me and feeling on top of the world.
The terraces are the most important features of the city. They provide a place to grow crops and also kept the city from sliding off the mountains.

The city is divided into a lower and upper part, separating the farming from residential areas, with a large square between the two.

The city was built on a mountain in the midst of mountains. The vistas you get is extraordinarily astounding with views that can really blow your minds away. 

It is definitely an attraction worth visiting.
To preserve this site, a limit of 2500 visitors per day is set but the crowd appeared enormous during my visit. The queue for the bus to bring us back to Aguas Calientes after our visit was as long as 500 meters - that is probably the longest queue I have ever seen waiting for public transportation. I thought we had to wait for hours but fortunately our Peruvian guide had good connection with the transportation staffs. We cut queue that day - it was a relief to us but a dismay to those who still had to wait.

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