Naveen Pant
by on May 20, 2019

Machu Picchu is simply stunning, incredibly beautiful. The ancient city is so remote, so high and surrounded by mountains that are as beautiful as they are. The wind, the sun, the rain, the clouds seem to converge at this point that remained hidden for so long. It's a dream scenario if there ever was one. If you are someone who can visit Egypt and can not see the pyramids or the Sphinx, maybe missing Machu Picchu will not be a big problem. Personally, I could not. It is a place synonymous with travel to Peru.

The site is the most popular in the entire continent and the driving force of tourism in Peru. But now it is being overwhelmed with visitors. Tourism here increases every year. During the high season, hotels, trains and Machu Picchu tours must be booked before and before. From May to September, the site is very crowded, with thousands of people visiting it daily. Around noon, most are there at the same time. The restrictions are necessary if Machu Picchu wishes to remain in the coming years. Landslides are frequent in the area, and many officials are concerned that the site is part of one of them if the flow of tourists does not decrease.

The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. A peasant he met in the area told him about the ruins. When he arrived on the scene, there were already peasants who cultivated on the land, so it was not exactly lost, as many believed. The name means "old mountain" in Quechua. It is located on the top of the Urubamba River in a remote cloud forest, so well hidden that the Spaniards never discovered it. It was a cult center, an astronomical observatory and the private retreat of the Inca Pachacútec. Considering that the Incas did not keep a written history and that the Spaniards never found the site, there is not as much information about Machu Picchu as you could have imagined. Much of the information is clearly speculative.

When Bingham found the site, he was searching and thought he had found the Inca bastion of Vilcabamba. In 1964 it was determined that they were the ruins of Espiritu Pampu, further away in the jungle. Bingham hoped that it would take him to the last Inca gold that the Spaniards had never melted. The site was too big at that time.

Bingham returned again in 1912 and 1915 with a team of Yale archaeologists, clearing much of the vegetation and mapping the site. Later, in 1934, the Peruvian archaeologist Luis E. Valcárcel came and a Peruvian-American expedition visited in 1940-41. Pachacutec, who initiated most of the Inca construction projects in the Cuzco area, probably started in the mid to late 15th century. Much of the stone eventually collapsed due to the effects of time and nature.

Most believe that it was not an important city in the Inca Empire, and many claim that it was probably abandoned even before the Spaniards arrived. Apparently, it was created, occupied and abandoned in a short period of time, perhaps less than a century.
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