Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Story of Macchu Picchu

The ninth and most famous Incan king (Inca actually means “king”) was named Pachacuti (1438-71). Legend has it that he met a girl in the Urubamba Valley and spent one amorous sunset with her. The girl’s mother was a seer and predicted that Pachacuti would rule the Incans. Her daughter was worried that Pachacuti would never return as although kings could have many concubines, they could only have one wife and that wife would be queen. “Besides,” she told him, “your people and mine might be enemies one day.” Pachacuti assured her that would never happen and promised to build her a palace in the place where they spent the sunset.

Sure enough, Pachucuti became king as the seer has foretold. He sent his soldiers out in the four cardinal directions to conquer different regions and expand the Incan empire. As custom demanded, he married a girl from the upper class (Incans usually married a half-sibling to maintain the blood line). In the meantime, he returned to the Urubamba Valley and secretly married his lover.

At the time, fighting between the Incas and the Kollas in Bolivias was splitting the empire in two. Pachucuti had to return to Cusco, the capital of the Incan empire, leaving behind his lover. Unbeknownst to him, she was pregnant at the time. She had the child and named him Ollantay. His grandmother predicted that he would either take over the kingdom or die. His mother sent him to Pachucuti, asking that he serve as a soldier in the king’s army. She never told the king that the young man was his son.

Ollantay became good friends with one Tupac Yanqui, one of Pachucuti’s sons and his half-brother. At the time, there was a campaign of 100 battles. Because of his faithful service to the king, Pachucuti named him general. When a rebellion took place in the town of Tumpas, the king therefore sent Ollantay to quell it. He succeeded and the town was renamed Ollantaytambo (now one of the three famous towns to visit in the Sacred Valley).

Meanwhile, Ollantay had falled in love with K (don’t remember her name). K was Pachucuti’s favorite daughter and her father didn’t want her to marry anyone. When he found out that Ollantay was in love with her, he asked Tupac Yanqui to send the upstart on the Incan expedition to Micronesia and Polynesia. As Tupac was good friends with him, he didn’t but told his father that he had. Ollantay used the opportunity to seek out the daughter, secretly marry her, and have a child with her.

Pachucuti had by then started construction of Macchu Picchu, supposedly as a palace for his love. He promised a reward to anyone who could bring water to the site. No one could. Ollantay was incredibly intelligent. Looking to the surroundings he saw the grandiose glacier Apu Salkantay. He decided to construct a canal from the glacier to Macchu Picchu. As a reward, he asked for K’s hand in marriage. Pachucuti refused. Ollantay decided to attack the king and wrest power from him in order to marry his daughter. He did not have the chance to carry out his plan, as his grandmother told him of the prophecy made long ago. She said that he had two options, he could kill his father or he could immolate himself – sacrifice himself on Salkantay so that his spirit would embody the mountain forever. Ollantay decided to do the latter.

Meanwhile, someone went running to Pachucuti and informed him of his son’s plan. Pachucuti was very sad. Yet, he decided that he could not give up his kingdom. He allowed Ollantay to proceed with his plan of sacrificing himself. For the next several decades, he told his children and grandchildren to look towards Salkantay and worship it because the glacier contained the spirit of Ollantay and the water running toward Macchu Picchu was Ollantay’s blood. Pachucuti lived to be 120 years old and died alone.

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