Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Vision Of Beauty

It was really awe-inspiring. Some attractions ended up being anti-climatic. But Machu Picchu lives up to the hype. I think part of the allure lay in the difficulty visitors have in reaching the site, perched high up at 2400m above the jungles, far from anywhere. And when you get up there, finally, the view which greets you is simply amazing.

It’s easy to read the detailed history of Machu Picchu elsewhere. What’s important to know, however, that this supposed lost city was, I guess, just not that widely known to the outside world, until 1911, when American explorer and future Senator Hiram Bingham came to the region, and was shown the place by more knowledgeable locals.

Since then, Machu Picchu has sprung to international fame, attracting more visitors than it probably should, getting itself listed recently as one of the new seven wonders of the world, with my presence helping probably to damage the fragile environment. But let’s put that aside for now, and consider the remarkable history of this place.

For one reason why Machu Picchu retains its well-preserved state was that the conquering Spanish never did manage to stumble upon this mountain citadel, because, if they did, they would have doubtlessly rampaged through the entire town, destroying anything that was valuable, as was their wont.

Yet history took a different turn, and Machu Picchu survived, although it was later abandoned by its own inhabitants. Perhaps there was a plague. Or perhaps mountain living became too difficult to sustain economically. It was never a large settlement, encompassing perhaps only a thousand inhabitants.

Agriculture must have been difficult, and trade with other communities not easy as well. What they were spared from, however, was earthquakes, for the reason why the Incas built this high altitude settlement was to escape the landslides and unsettled terrain further down.

It’s estimated that the Machu Picchu was built, occupied and abandoned in the space of less than a hundred years. And when the last person left, the jungle took over, covering the place up, thereby serving to shroud Machu Picchu for generations to come. The stuff of legends. And frankly, I feel rather privileged to have had the opportunity to come see this monument to humanity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoa, reading your posts brings back so many lovely memories of peru. it really sounded like you had a great time (sans the altitude sickness). hv fun in london, see you when u get back to sgp!

from the Home Team Academy,

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what great pictures! :)

1:15 AM  
Blogger Tricia said...

ohhh...how beautiful. the site of the city is fabulous. what wouldn't i give to go there!

6:28 AM  

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