Peru, the Land of the Incas

Peru is a paradise in which landscapes like mountains, beaches and coasts, deserts and jungle mix to form a beautiful country.  Peruvians take pride in their culture and religion.

My first post Travel to Peru, covers the detailed itinerary along with some interesting experiences of Peru during our trip.

Machu PicchuMachu Picchu1

Machu Picchu was built by the Incas in the 15th century and is 7,920 feet above sea level on the eastern slopes of the Andes. At the time of the Spanish Conquest it was abandoned and then later in 1911, was discovered by explorer Hiram Bingham III (a professor at Yale University) The buildings were made without mortar (typical of the Inca), designed to withstand earthquakes.Machu Picchu2Machu Picchu3Machu Picchu4 We saw these structures here which point to its spiritual significance:

Intihuatana is a ritual stone associated with the astronomic clock or calendar of the Inca. Incan believed that the stone holds the sun in its place along its annual path.Intihuatana

Temple of the Sun or Torreón, has an elliptical design like a sun temple found at the Inca capital of Cuzco. It is located near where the Inca emperor is believed to have resided.

 

Inti Mach’ay, a special cave, located below the Temple of the Sun, which is believed to celebrate and observe the Royal Feast of the Sun. This festival was only to be celebrated by the nobility. The cave also includes a unique tunnel-like window which cannot be found in any other Incan structure and was believed to allow sunlight into the cave for several days around the time of the December solstice.Cave below Temple of Sun

Temple of Condor is another example of what the Incas could do with the stones in their natural position. Its wings are carved on a huge rock of the mountain while the head and neck of the bird are carved on the floor as an altar which could be an altar.Temple o f Condor

The journey to Machu Picchu through the Inca Rail was unforgettable. The rail started at Cusco and took us through some enchanting views of the Sacred Valley. For people who love to hike, the Inca trail is another option to reach Machu Picchu.

Terraces of Moray, Saltpans of Maras, Ollantaytambo

At the unique site of Moray, in the southern highlands we saw one of the most extraordinary examples of Inca landscaping. In a large bowl-like depression, there are a series of concentric agricultural terraces that looks like an ancient Greek amphitheater. The largest of these terraces are at the center – that gradually reduce in size as they descend into a natural depression formed by the mountainside.  The concentric terraces are split by multiple staircases that extend upward like spokes of a wheel and enable people to walk from the top to the bottom of the bowl.Moray1

Later we visited the Saltpans of Maras, where salt is still produced using the same methods as in the pre-Inca period.  The ancient salt pans are dug into the mountainside, thousands of shallow pools filled with salt water eventually evaporate and leave behind the crystallized salt, a process that has been practiced for more than 500 years.Maras1

Afterward, we visit the ruins of the Incan fortress in Ollantaytambo, last stand of the Incas in their defense against the Spanish conquistadors. This site, abandoned before completion, offered archaeologists a glimpse into the sophisticated engineering of the Incas. Right from the entrance to the site, the ruins of Ollantaytambo climb up into the terraced heights of a temple district. Hiking to the top, we could see some beautiful views from there. At the top, the wall of the Six Monoliths dominates the view. The temple was never finished but probably belonged to Templo del Sol – a temple to worship the sun. Each stone is said to weigh more than 50 tons.

 

Cusco

Plaza de Armas is a busy and vibrant main square that marks the colonial center of the city. The plaza has gardens with fountains in the center and stone paved pathways all along. We visited the Cusco Cathdral and the Church La Cmpania de Jesus which are in this plaza.

 

Afterwards, we went to the Santo Domingo church, built on top the religious complex of Koricancha that once was the Temple of the Sun, deemed the center of the Inca world dedicated to its highest Gods. This temple’s walls and floors were allegedly once covered by sheets of solid gold.

 

Lima

Lima is Peru’s largest city and is known for its wonderful food, pre-Inca sites, old churches and museums.Miraflores5

 

Located in Plaza Mayor, Lima’s main square, the cathedral is the most important church in the country as it was the first Catholic monument built in the country by the Spanish conquistadors in 1535. It took 114 years to build it.

 

Miraflores is a beautiful district overlooking beaches lined with small rocks and is a popular place for tourists and visitors.

 

Larcomar shopping center is a popular sea-front location for shopping there.

The Museo Larco and its Erotic Gallery is devoted to ceramics and artifacts that illustrate how these cultures represented their everyday lives, including their sex lives.

Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines in southern desert region of Peru are massive drawings in the soil and a mystery that has yet to be explained by modern science. The flight over these Nazca Lines showed us these amazing views of the hummingbird, the monkey, the hands and the astronaut and many more.

This was one of the highlights of the  trip and I would highly recommend going here.

Paracas National Reserve

Explored the reserve driving in a 4wd through the dunes. The drive was beautiful along the desert and sand along the ocean. Magnificent views of the contrasting colors of the desert and the intense blue of the sea along the shoreline. We drove to the visitors center first and then  we made several stops at beaches, inlets, clifftops – saw some amazing scenery throughout the route.

Our time in Peru was quite an adventure- memories are unforgettable

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