Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Search for El Dorado*

                                            If You Ruled the World

If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring...

But, if YOU were to rule the world, where would you choose to rule it from? What kind of place would it be? What kind of characteristics would you look for? Well, let’s see...

You might pick a mountain top because that would give you a sense of power when you look down on your lands and peoples below. Also the people in the lands below would naturally look up to you and feel inferior themselves. Everybody knows their place right?
OK, so far so good.

You might also choose a palace with a beautiful view. After all, it is no good being the ruler of the world, if you don’t have a special place to live in, now is there? So an opulent palace is in order, the best there is. Built with fine attention to detail, made from only the finest rocks, carved by the best craftsmen and planned according to the best design. More importantly, if you are ruler of the world, you don’t need to pay attention to that mere triviality that humans use, money. OK, so money no object then.

Also, all deities like water don’t they? So we need some water. It needs to be impressive; it needs to have a bit of fire to it, an impressive river with a dangerous edge.

We also need some mystique, some sense of awe, something inspiring don’t we? Yes, I think we do. After all, you want to command respect and awe don’t you? You don’t want mere mortals sussing you out, do you now? You want respect and attention. So we need an awe- inspiring place, somewhat isolated, away from the crowds. This place needs to be difficult to get to, difficult to see, not even many people know about it. They may have heard about it, but they do not know about it. And they may know about it, but that doesn’t mean they know where it is, or even how to get there, or how unique and special it really is.

Ok, so far so good, but every ruler needs a central spot to govern from don’t they?

Yes, every deity needs a throne. Gods need a place to rule and to be ruled over. This must be something special, carved out of mountain, on top of a mountain, with a sheer fall below. It needs to inspire awe and dread. The throne also needs to be unique; it must give the impression of ruling the world, as indeed, it does. You must be able to touch the clouds, and you can. Here you can command, and that is what gods are meant to do....

Any place that rules the world also has to be in touch with the other planets in the universe doesn’t it? If the sun, for example, paid its respects that would be good, right? If there was mutual respect, that would be even better, wouldn’t it? So the chosen place needs mutual inter-planetary respect. Now that is challenging!

There is another condition that humans like to have when they go and visit their chosen one. They like to suffer. They like to suffer because that shows they are serious about their chosen one, so that their chosen one will forgive them their sins. You only get your sins forgiven, if you really suffer on the way to this place. No private landing strips or helicopter landing pads then I guess. Every person of whatever class or condition is reduced to the same state to visit this place. When you visit your God, that is how it should be right?

We also need a long history. But to maintain the awe and mystique, this needs to be covered in myth, part speculation and part fact. The fact needs to interesting enough to provoke the speculation, and vice versa.

If there was a place that combined all the above criteria, would people feel a calling, a kind of religious calling that attracts the pilgrims to Mecca or Jerusalem? First, they would need to be convinced that such a place existed, and then they would surely go.

So where on earth is this place? Can such a weird and wonderful place really exist? There is only one place in the world which has all of the above, unique and wonderful features, because there is only one God, right? So there can only be one, unique, inspiring place like this.

This place was kept secret for hundreds of years, but now the secret is out. It is called Machu Picchu in Peru.

And yes, it does have all the above.

Machu Picchu is situated 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco, perched on the crest of the mountain Machu Picchu, about 2,450 meters above sea level. The city itself lies in a saddle between two mountains, and has a stunning view down two valleys. It lies above the Urubamba Valley, with the wild Urubamba River below. From the cliff top of Huayna Piccu there is a sheer fall of more than 600 metres to the river.

The urban sector of Machu Picchu was divided into three great districts: the Sacred District, the Popular District to the south, and the District of the Priests and the Nobility. The central buildings of the city use the classic Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls using the ashlar technique, whereby blocks of stone are cut to fit together without the need for mortar.
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At the top of this cliff top of Huayna Piccu is a solid stone, carved out of the rock, where only one person can sit at a time. This is the ‘throne’ with which you can rule the world. The clouds kiss your cheeks, and dangle just above your head, as you sit here and contemplate life as the ruler of the world. You are the arbiter of life and death for a few minutes, and you can see most of the world from this unique vantage point. The moment is awe-inspiring.

Located in the sacred district of the city are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. These were dedicated to Inti, the Inca sun god and greatest deity. The Intihuatana stone was arranged to point directly at the sun during the winter solstice. Also at midday on March 21 and September 21, the equinoxes, the sun stands directly above the pillar—casting no shadow at all. It is believed that it was built as an astronomic clock or calendar.

These days many thousands of tourist walk the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu each year, which consists of a three to four-day journey on foot through the harsh terrain of the Andes to the isolated city. They suffer as pilgrims do to reach this sacred destination, and are rewarded by the prize of seeing the sun rise over Machu Picchu at first light.

The city of Machu Picchu-El Dorado- is calling you…to help rule the world….

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*This is the fourth and final article in the series on The Search for El Dorado

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