Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inca “trails” in Ecuador

The “Inca Trail” was a vast network of roads that united the Incan empire.  It consisted of two primary arteries.  One was the mountain route, and the other was the coastal route with many branches from each.   If one started in Quito, Ecuador and traveled south on the mountain route, one could travel all the way to modern day Santiago, Chile. This trail is known as the Great Inca Road, or Main Andean Road. If one would leave Quito and head south, the first major stop would be Ingapirca and then Cuenca (Tomebamba), and that is where we are!  See map below taken from Wikipedia – the green road is the “Great Inca Road” and the dark blue road is the “coastal road”.

Ingapirca today is primarily an Incan temple to the sun and a Cañar temple to the Moon.  The Cañari people were the indigenous people who lived in the area and were conquered by the Incan people after a conflict of several decades.  Then the two groups lived side by side for about 50 to 70 years (and then the Spanish came!). The temples contained the priests, support people, soldiers and others, but the temple has a distinctive Cañari section (temple of the moon) and a distinctive Incan section (temple of the sun).  See pics.  An interesting note about the two cultures:  the Incan culture was a male-dominated culture with their religion focused on the male (Sun, son of the Sun which is the Inca or ruler, father, grandfather), while the Cañari culture was a more female-dominated culture, with the religion having more focus on women (moon, mother, grandmother).

The Cuenca area is the birthplace of one of the last Inca commanders --  Tupac Yupanqui, and because of the importance of birthplaces (as well as a host of other reasons), he built the city “Tomebamba” and the ruins of the administrative/religious buildings of Tomebamba are known as Pumapongo (the door of the puma) in downtown Cuenca. The city of Tomebamba was a rival to the main Incan capital in Cuzco, Peru.  However, when the Spanish arrived, the city was in ruins due to the previous civil war between the Incan brothers/rulers.  See pics of Pumaponga in previous blog posted January 22 (Museums in Cuenca.)
View of Andes Mountains surrounding Ingapirca.
Llama and Randall by tree with hallucinogenic leaves in front of Temple to the Moon.
Temple of the sun (Incan)

The elevated plaza has an elliptical shape - some say to match the orbit of the earth around the sun.
The stone workmanship on the Sun Temple (Incan) is impressive.
The Incan stones are pillowed (the surfaces protrude out from the edges).
The home of the Inca (the leader or Son of the Sun).
View of the Temple of the Moon from the Temple of the Sun.
Julie and Harold on the Inca Trail going past the Temples.


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