Exploring the belief systems of early cultures can be enlightening and transforming. Each offers unique perspective on how we can create environments that are in harmony with the natural forces. We can learn from the ancient laws and follow them faithfully in our present life. This may include arranging the floor plan of our home according to a feng-shui ba-gua, or creating a special room incorporating symbols drawn from the Inca ideology.
This week, we are focusing on, an ancient civilisation, the mighty Inca. In the remote Andes mountain range of South America, the Inca created vast stone circles according to a plan that had been handed down from their ancestors, representing innate rhythms and life energies derived from nature. These stone circles, or medicine wheels, incorporated symbols and icons important in the daily life of the tribe.
The Inca civilisation was a pastoral tribe in the Cusco area around the 12th century. The great Explorer Columbus arrived in America at 1491, when Inca was the largest empire in the world. It was greater than the Ming Dynasty of China and larger than the Ottoman Empire. The Inca estate spanned the distance of northern Ecuador to central Chile and consisted of 12 million inhabitants from more than 100 different ethnic groups.
Ancient Inca Wall in the City of Cusco is a wonder. Their exquisite architecture is a marvel to look at; architects cannot presume how they built it without the use of the wheel and modern tools. Their buildings have withstood five centuries, even in earthquake prone zones. It is presumed that one of the prime reasons behind the remarkable Inca architecture is the organization of its society and labour. The whole empire divided into seven parts enlisted Cuzco as the capital. Their communications system was very modern with almost 400,000 kilometre roads connected along the provinces.
Machu Picchu is probably one of the top international bucket list destinations. Unknown to the outside world until 1911, its mystique and stunning location on a mountain ridge have been drawing adventurous visitors ever since, now it is included in the seven wonders.
Twelve acres of terraces, gardens, staircases, temples and aqueducts sprawl along a jungle ridge, above the Urubamba River at 7,970 feet above the sea level. Most archaeologists believe the 15th-century site was built as an estate for the emperor Pachacuti, then abandoned and 'lost' after the Spanish conquest.
Towering above the north end of Machu Picchu is a steep mountain and a breathtaking temple perched on the edge of the peak at 9,000 feet. Some say, priests used to climb up the mountain, every day to welcome the morning sun. The climb is narrow, steep and treacherous, taking anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. Once above, the view of Machu Picchu is amazing and the surrounding jungle-covered peaks and valleys is probably one of the most spectacular scenes on earth. In the Sacred Valley, the Incas built a series of concentric circular terraces, speculated to have been an agricultural laboratory. Each terrace is a little hotter and less windy, allowing the simulation of microclimates. The site, at 11,500 feet above sea level, has a mystical vibe to it, possibly due to the breathless, dizzying feeling of being at high altitudes.
In 2011, the Peruvian government began limiting visitors to 2,500 per day, so it is vital to get tickets well in advance of your visit through an online ticketing site. Today, train can best access the Inca archaeological site of Ollantaytambo in southern Peru. Visitors who take the time to stop at this place are rewarded with exclusivity, as it is one of the only towns in Peru that retains its original Inca walls and street grid. Visitors from Cuzco can take a taxi or hike to the site in less than an hour.
I have a long lingering desire to visit Machu Picchu. One of my close relatives had visited this manmade incredible civilisation and sent me some photos. Their views inspire me, and I remembered the great poet Pablo Neruda.
THE HEIGHTS OF MACHU PICCHU
From air to air, as through an empty net, I made my way between streets and
atmosphere, offering, in the advent of autumn with its largess of leaves like
a shower of coins, and amid the sprouts of springtime, my greetings and
farewells to that which the greatest of loves places before us like a long
moon in a dropped glove.
By Nazneen Haque Mimi
E-mail: journeyman. email@example.com
Photo Credit: Iqbal Husain
The Inca Fact Sheet
The Incas were artistic people who used materials available to them from nature to create many artistic structures.
They used worship natural resources such as water streams, rocks, animals, almost anything related to nature, and the best way to worship was to incorporate their artistic creations, in their offerings, to the gods.
The Sun was the most important god in the Inca Empire and since gold shined like the sun, it was the chosen metal for most religious ceremonies.
Most of the Inca gold jewellery and artefacts were looted by the Spanish conquerors; melted and taken away to Spain
The Incas are considered as one of the finest textile developers in the world.
Major characteristic of the Inca pottery is that there was no human form used, unlike other cultures that thrived before them, instead they used geometric patterns and shapes and heads of animals.
The Incas had two types of musical instruments, wind and percussion. Music reached all corners of the empire and all social classes. The Incas used one word 'taqui' to describe dance, music and singing.