High amongst the Andes mountain range in Peru at a height of 2,430 metres lies the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. This historic city was unknown to the outside world till the locals led the famous American archaeologist Hiram Bingham to the site in 1911 and since then it has become one of the most important tourist destinations in Peru. The Lost City of the Incas as it is often called is probably the greatest testimony to the brilliance of the Inca civilization and is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Peruvian government has declared the site as a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary and has taken steps to restore the city so that you can get an idea how the city looked in its glory days.
It is believed that the city was built during the middle of the 15th century as a country rereat for the Incan Emperor Pachacuti and other elites. The city which has been designed on the classical Incan style of architecture with polished dry stone walls was abandoned about hundred years later at the time the Spanish conquered Peru. Though the reason for the abandonment is not clear it is believed most of its residents died of small pox. The Spanish conquerors never discovered the city which is now regarded among the world’s most famous and astonishing ruins.
To visit Machu Picchu, which has made it to the list of the ‘new seven wonders of the world’ one can either take a bus from Aguas Calientes or take a two hour walk along the bus route from the same place. If you have an adventurous streak you can opt for the two-day or four-day Inca Trail trek which is regulated by the government. Though strenuous the hike would be worth the trouble as you would get a chance to enter the city from the spectacular Sun Gate from where one can have a breathtaking view of the valley below. If you reach early morning you would be able to the sun peeking through the gates and mountains.
Entering the city you become amazed by the skills of the Incan architects who created this urban city at such altitude, and where the walls, ramps and terraces seem to be cut out of natural rock cliffs. The incredible stonework of the Sun Temple at the summit of the city would leave you awestruck and so would the Intihuatana which acts as a sun dial at dawn on certain days.