By Almas Akhtar, TMO
In the middle of a tropical mountain forest about 2,430 meters over sea level in an extraordinarily beautiful setting lies Machu Pichu–regarded as the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire. It looks mesmerizing, with elegant walls lined up with polished stones; its ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting is located on the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountain Range.
Machu Pichu and the other archaeological sites of the valley of the Urubamba were built during the Inca civilization. Cuzco and the old villages still show traces of land occupation from the Inca Empire and perhaps Machu Pichu was the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire.
Machu Pichu is the most attractive mountainous territory of the Peruvian Andes, regarded as one of the wonders of the world.
As the last stronghold of the Incas and for itâ€™s immense architectural and archaeological importance, Machu Pichu is one of the most important cultural sites in Latin America.
Its beautiful stonework remains as one of the worldâ€™s great examples of the use of a natural raw material to provide outstanding architecture. The surrounding valleys have been cultivated continuously for well over 1,000 years, providing one of the worldâ€™s greatest examples of a productive man-land relationship; the people living around Machu Pichu continue a way of life which closely resembles that of the their Inca ancestors. These people are mostly farmers and traders, potatoes and maize are the popular crops and one can find donkeys and llamas still being used as mode of transportation. In the last few decades tourism became very popular which lead to the construction of many large hotels and train and bus services to Machu Pichu. It is a three hour train ride from Cuzco to Machu Pichu then a twenty minute bus ride around the mountains. Almost every tourist who visits Machu Pichu is amazed by its picturesque beauty and detailed craftsmenship of the Incas. It is believed that Machu Pichu was built in the early 1400s and abandoned about 100 years later by its inhabitants.
It was discovered by an American, Hiram Bingham in 1911 who was a professor at Yale University. It is believed that a little 10 year old boy whose family was living in the traces of Machu Pichu guided him to it. He later wrote a book â€œThe lost city of the Incasâ€ about his adventure and discovery of Machu Pichu.
Machu Pichu is considered a UNESCO world heritage site.