Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Llama City

The city of Ollantaytambo (pronounced or-yan-tai-tahm-boh) was the second Inca site that we visited on our full day tour of the Sacred Valley. This is a pretty important site in terms of Inca history. After the Spanish conquistadors took over the Pacific coast, Lima and Cusco, they installed a puppet Inca emperor in Cusco while they reveled in their pillaged loots of gold and set about the more important task of forcing the locals into Catholicism than properly governing their new-found conquest.

But the puppet emperor, Manco Inca, was no Spanish Muppet. He raised a secret Incan army who rose against the Spanish, but lost. The surviving Incas retreated to Ollantaytambo - a fortress and temple site near Cusco. Although badly-hit themselves, the Spanish army pressed on after the fleeing Incas, but was destroyed in battle as the Incas, lining the gaping terraces of their stronghold, launched a relentless assault from higher ground.

The high terraces that gave the Incas an advantage over the Spanish in the battle at Ollantaytambo

Seen from below, the ruins at Ollantaytambo are suppose to be laid out on the hillsides in the shape of a llama. I tried my best but I still couldn't make head or tail of the imaginary llama! So I focused on enjoying the view from the top instead.

After scaling the terraces, you enter the temple zone through a stone punku or portal.

A view fit for a king (really, I was sitting on an actual stone throne when taking this picture)

Marveling at how humans look so tiny in comparison with the giant terraces and towering mountains

Taking a stroll through old town

Visitors can still see etchings of the Incas' beliefs on the smooth pink granite walls. The chakana, for example. Although it's commonly known as the "Inca cross", the chakana is more correctly a symbol of Andean religion, as it was present in other Andean cultures from the pre-Inca era. The 3 levels of the Andean cross (as it should be rightly named), represent the everyday world, the underworld and the heavens, which are in turn represented by the puma, the snake and the condor. The hole in the middle represents the axis through which shamans transit between the worlds, and also Cusco - the centre of the Inca empire.

The chakana - an important element of the Incan religion

A sneaky back-view shot of ornately-dressed local women all waiting to be paid to pose for a photo

With the sun quickly sinking behind the mountains, we hurried down the terraces to board the bus to our next destination. The views en route to Chincherro were breathtaking!

Windswept clouds

Dry farmland waiting for the rains to fall and soften the grounds for planting season

Trundling alongside some lovely golden patchwork

Scenes from a bus

Next stop: Chincherro!


Honyi said...

Beautiful pictures! Love the blue blue sky!

Yi Lin said...

Thanks Hon! I just cldn't take my eyes off the sky too. Snapped SO many pics but can only post a few.

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