The sun is shining its miraculous rays today. It’s beautiful. I’m so sun-deprived and vitamin D deficient and I long for brighter, longer and warmer days. Seeing this morning’s golden glow, I was reminded of my recent Mexican vacay and realised I haven’t posted anything on Chichen Itza!
The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza were founded in 400 A.D. It is located north of the Yucatan Peninsula (now known as Mexico) and is now part of the new seven wonders of the world – as declared on 07.07.07. The other six wonders are Christ Redeemer in Brazil, the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal in India, Petra in Jordan and Macchu Pichu in Peru. I’m so pumped I got to check off one of the seven wonders in my travels to date.
The archaeological site is a ‘showroom’ of one the world’s best architects! I’m saying this because the well preserved structures were all made by hand and were all aligned perfectly and with utmost precision. And the Mayans certainly didn’t have modern tools to help them. It’s totally awe-inspiring.
The name Chichen Itza means ‘At the mouth of the well of Itza’. Our guide did show us the ‘well’ which was literally about an acre in diameter. It was used in the ancient times as a sacrificial well where people were thrown in alive to appease to Gods (in times of drought or the like) and those who survived were considered to be ‘seers’. Yikes – I wonder how one was ‘selected’ to be sacrificed…
The most famous structure of Chichen Itza is the main temple, Kukulcan. This pyramid structure is the work of some geniuses (genii). Inside the temple lies a Chac Mool statue and a throne in a shape of a jaguar. The interior of the pyramid is no longer accessible (since it was closed to the public 6 years ago). So we kinda admired the structure from the outside.
Strange fact: When we stood at the front of the temple of Kukulcan and clapped, the echo that came back sounded just like birds chirping. It didn’t matter how far or near you stood in front of it – the chirps were consistent. We’ll never know how that works but basically when you’re there, you’ll see a bunch of people clapping and looking amazed as the pyramid chirpped back. Crazy but true.
The columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors was another amazing sight. Every single column was perfectly aligned. If you stood in front of the first column, you’ll never see anything else behind it. Even if it was diagonal. Perfectly aligned – every single one of them.
There was also a ‘football field’. You heard it! Except that players hit the ball with a stick through a stone goal high up on a wall. I don’t think it was an easy sport. And get this, the leader of the winning team got to sacrifice himself to the gods. Once again, it was considered an honour. Losing one’s head over a game was certainly taken very literally here.
All along the dirt tracks within the site, there were also modern day Mayans displaying their skills and work of art. Albeit in very different ways than their ancestors.
I’m really privileged to have visited this place. The journey there was long and arduous, it didn’t help that we were in a hurry (we had a dinner to go back to at the resort) and our driver did not understand our urgency. But I’m glad we went, saw and believed in the splendour of the works of ancient Mayans.
For more information about Chichen Itza, visit this informative site.