Machu Picchu is an ancient city located 2,430 meters above sea level at Machu Picchu district of Peru in Cusco Region of Urubamba Province. Traveling to Machu Picchu is like traveling back in time. It is a place that enchants, inspires, surprises and delights you.
Visiting Machu Picchu would certainly excite the adventurous or the discoverer in you and it’s a place you must visit once in your lifetime. The ruins of this mysterious town were first discovered by Hiram Bingham, a Yale archaeologist in the year 1911. It is a 15th century site of the Inca and the name ‘Machu Picchu’ means Old Peak in the Quencha language. Some also believe that the site may have been discovered much before this time during 1867 by a German businessman known to be Augusto Berns, but it came to be publicly discovered only in the year 1911. It is believed that the site was used for sacred ceremonies during Inca times and was development in such a way that the whole town was self-sustained.
Besides being used for ceremonial festivities, the Machu Picchu also functioned as an astronomical observatory and the Intihuatana stone is a proof of this amazing invention. A lot of researches done on this ancient site have suggested that on March 21st and September 21st at midday, the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. This is believed to be the special times when the Inca people performed sacred activities. Similarly there are numerous other significant times when movement of sky along with celestial changes have been noticed with the help of this Intihuatana stone.
Other attractions at the site are the temple of the sun and the room with 3 windows. The entire site has been constructed using polished dry stones, which is very typical of classic Inca style of architecture. Traveling to Machu Picchu will be an exciting trip as the site is surrounded by beautiful and dense tropical forest and offers incredible views of snow-capped peaks and great granite precipices that are huge at almost 2000 feet in height.
Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and has been a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary since 1981. Do spend some time at a little town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Town. It is located at a beautiful spot right at the base of the hill along the river Urubamba. Although the town doesn’t have much to do, spending a night here would help you prepare for the next leg of your journey for Machu Picchu the next day. It also helps if you want to reach the site early in the morning to capture an amazing sun rise and avoid the crowds. There are numerous travel agents who conduct regular Machu Picchu hiking tours and other adventure activities.
Machu Picchu hiking tours take about 1-2 hours to cover the distance of 8 kms to the site and each tour when traveling to Machu Picchu can be planned keeping in mind an individual’s pace for walking. These hiking tours are beautiful as they take you through the tiny villages, beautiful farms, flower laden valleys and mountains. And if you are not into hiking, there are regular buses that take you to the site. Machu Picchu tickets can be arranged much in advance and the site remains open between 10am to 2pm. So it is important that anyone planning to visit this town has a well-planned itinerary.