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Published: October 22nd 2012
Two hours after landing in Mexico City on a lovely Sunday afternoon, I was cruising with my local colleague towards Teotihuacán which is located in the shadow of the massive mountain Cerro Gordo about 30 odd miles outside Mexico City. 40 minutes later we reached our destination after a brief stop for gas. There was a two mile long cobblestone road from the main entrance of Teotihuacán to the actual archeological site which made the ride to the parking lot quite bouncy and seemed to be never ending.
Teotihuacán was the capital of Mexico's largest pre-Hispanic empire. “Teotihuacán” is ancient language means “the place where men become gods". On this archeological site sits the "Piramides del Sol y de la Luna" (Pyramids of the Sun and Moon), as well as the Temple of Quetzálcótl. The pyramid of the Sun is the third largest in the world only surpassed by the pyramid of Cholula and the great Pyramid of Giza.
According to history this archeological site was erected by a virtually unknown culture in the first century B.C., the city sprawled over an area larger than imperial Rome. But by A.D. 750 it had been abruptly abandoned, perhaps because of
disaster or drought. Five hundred years later the Aztecs came upon Teotihuacán -- with its pyramids, temples, apartments, and ball courts -- and adopted it as a center of pilgrimage. It is said that during the vernal equinox, Teotihuacan is packed with folks who dress in white who climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. They stand at the top with arms outstretched to receive the mystical energy of the site on that day.
After parking the car, we weaved ourselves through a throng of vendors selling trinkets made of obsidian (Obsidian is a kind of volcanic glass) to the base of the Sun Pyramid. I was mesmerized looking at the grandeur of this amazingly enormous structure. Standing in front of one of the wonders of the world felt gratifying. My colleague and I decided to go up to the top of the pyramid but before proceeding I was asked an interesting question “How fit are you?” I wondered why I was asked this, considering there were only 200 odd steps to the top. Little did I know that these steps were stamina testers.
So we proceeded to ascend this impressive five-layered pyramid taking huge
strides up the steep narrow steps, using a thin rubber handrail built for the safety and balance. As we cleared each set of steps, my colleague and I decided to stop to catch our breadths. I now understood why I was asked that silly question. Not so silly anymore. It was a quite a workout by the time we climbed those 200 steep narrow steps. We couldn’t go all the way to the top of the pyramid as it was cordoned off. I was rather disappointed though but I think my colleague was glad not to be climbing 50 more steep steps. We just walked around the perimeter of the second tier we were at.
After admiring the view and taking photos we began a careful descent down the steep treacherous steps to the base of the pyramid.
Due to time constraint we decided to skip going to the Pyramid of the Moon but walk along the central walkway, called Calzada de los Muertos or the “Avenue of the Dead". This two-and-a-half mile long Avenue runs from Pyramid of the Moon to the La Ciudadela (the Citadel). Along the Avenue there were lot of boards of information, but
it was too darn hot to stand about reading it, so did some quick skimming and some photos of the information boards. J
After a walk that felt forever in the hot brutal heat, we reached the Citadel. A short climb up the ruined steps suddenly opened out into a 17 acre square, a square sectioned off by lots and lots of sets of steps. At the far end of the square was the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent which was obscured from view by the Adosada platform.
In the middle of the square there was an elevated platform. I have no idea what was the purpose of this platform perhaps a sacrificial one, but I found a good purpose for it. I stood in the middle of the platform and took 360° photo of Teotihuacán from my iPhone. After taking the photo, my colleague and I walked up to another platform known as the Adosada platform where we saw the beautiful pyramid know as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. This magnificent pyramid contains two hundred and sixty feathered serpent heads between the platforms. Each of these feathered serpents also contains an open area in its mouth. This
open area is big enough to put a place holder in and it is believed that the people of Teotihuacán would move this place marker around the pyramid to represent the ritual calendar. When a spiritual day would arrive the people would gather within the walls of the citadel and celebrate the ritual.
After spending sometime at the temple admiring the beauty or the architecture, we headed back along the Avenue of the Dead towards the parking lot and back to Mexico City.
This was a memorable experience to see one of the natural wonders of the world. Another check mark on my bucket list.
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