Chichen Itza is one of the largest archaeological sites that belong to Maya Civilization and is established at the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Its beauty and historic significance made it the most visited tourist destination in Mexico. In the year 1988, UNESCO World Heritage Site declared it as a World Heritage Site. Not only this, this place is also declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World recently. Tourists (especially from Cancun) prefer to visit this place during day time only as Cancun is only 100 miles away from Chichen Itza. The people of Maya Communities are also responsible for the development of the wonderful sites of this place. Thus, tourists will find the essence of Maya Culture in all the Archaeological sites of Chichen Itza.
Path to Chichen Itza:
If you are going by road, then Chichen Itza is right on the highway that lies between the city of Cancun (the resort city) and Merida (the capital city). The most adventurous route will be that of the road that is parallel to the toll highway road. This route is usually known as the “Libre route”. While travelling through this Libre route you will find many small villages along the road and can even stop there for sometime if you want. Some animals and pedestrians can be found on the roads and platforms. There are many ADO buses available from Cacun that will cost you 202 pesos as one way fare and will take 3 hrs to reach Chichen Itza. Some cheaper buses that will cost 122 pesos for one way trip are also available but will take 4 hrs to reach the destination. For tourists who are from far places, a number of companies offer tours. The names of some of these companies are Tours Aldebaran, Adventure Life and Entertainment Plus. Even the Chichen Services also offers Sustainable Tourism to tourists and support the people living in nearby area through their endeavors and projects.
History Behind Chichen Itza:
For about thousand years, Chichen Itza has been the central Pilgrimage of ancient Maya. There is a Sacred Cenote, which is a sinkhole of limestone, was dedicated to “Chac”, the ancient Rain God. In the year 987, the king of the Toltec people came to Mexico to build a city of his own. He with his Maya allies discovered the most powerful city of Yucatan- Chichen Itza. The ruler addresses himself as “Kukulcan” which was taken from the name of the Serpent Deity of Mesoamerica. This Feathered Serpent Deity is also referred as “Quetzalcoatl”. Afterwards Chichen Itza became the centre of worship of Kulkulcan along with other gods also. As a result, many new buildings were built there in Toltec and Maya styles.
The king of Chichen Itza witnessed a revolt against him in the year 1221. The king lost his power and the place was not abandoned but political power was shifted from Chichen Itza to somewhere else. The development of the city was stopped and no new buildings were built there until the 16th century. Despite of these things, Chichen Itza was still the pilgrimage of Maya. In the early 16th century, the Spanish Conquistadors conquered the city and the city lost its glory. The whole city was grown into a jungle and was decayed slowly. Then in the beginning of 1920s, the forests were cleared and some construction projects were started. The ancient structures of Chichen Itza were restored and became the main tourist attraction.
A Trip to Chichen Itza:
There are many fascinating places in Chichen Itza but the main landmark of Chichen Itza is El Castillo. The El Castillo castle is also popular by the name “the Pyramid of Kulkulcan”. This is a temple cum pyramid devoted to the Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent God. It was also nicknamed as “the Castle”. The temple is very beautiful to look at. The northern staircase of the temple has the sculptures of this god along the sides of the stairs. Inside this main temple there is an inner temple which is also a bigger one. The tunnels which led to this inner temple were cleared by the archeologists to allow a view of this inner temple. On the top of this main temple, people can see the Jaguar Throne of the famous King Kulkulcan. This throne is red with jade spots and is carved of stones. This Jaguar Throne was kept in a room which is on the top of the temple. But these rooms are no longer accessible. The paths to these places including the inner temple are blocked because of destruction and erosion of some sacred monuments inside the temple.
Another place which is blocked now is the “Temple of the Warriors”. The “Great Ballcourt” is also the only court at Chichen Itza offering Mesoamerican ballgame. The Great Ballcourt has 7 courts and these are the by far the most impressive place of Chichen Itza. Some other ancient places are the Temple of the Jaguars, Sweatbaths (a place to relax and purify the thoughts, body and mind of people), Platform of the Skulls, Cenote of Sacrifice, the Red House, House of Deer, etc. All these places are very near to each other and thus can be visited simultaneously. To know the history of the Maya civilization and explore their ancient monuments and temples, Chichen Itza is the place to go.