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Joani Jiannine
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                    The Ancient Sacred ~ Waqrapukara, Part One

Reflecting the beauty of it's natural environment, Waqrapukara seems to have been designed to be seen from the heights of Hanan Pacha (the world above) as an act of offering and devotion to the deities of the mountains, and the Sun, Moon, Water, and the Earth.

Situated along the southern plateau of Sacred Valley, Peru, this very ancient 3500 year old and very sacred ceremonial sanctuary is naturally set some 13,494 feet (GE) above the Apurimac River Canyon.


The surrounding environment creates a very unusual and special site where the Ancients molded and merged Mother Nature's natural creation with the very best of their artistic ceremonial architecture, melding together spectacular natural formations and amazing stone masonry that made full use of light and shadow. This profound landscape has the elements of both wisdom and power. GE: 14.01' 11.26" S ~ 71.41' 38.11" W

Waqrapukara is believed to have been built by the pre-Inca Qanchi culture in the period called “Auqaruna” (1,500 BC – 1,000 BC) and there still exists an extremely strong possibility it could be much, much older. During this period, the complex was a ceremonial center called “Llaqta Pukara” and the headquarters of a leader of the Qanchis. It served both as an astronomical observatory and sanctuary of the god “Teqci Pachakamaq Wiraqocha” (the creator of all created things). Many, many centuries later, it was found by the Inca, who repaired and remodeled the constructions to their needs during the reign of Wayna Qhapaq.

The name comes from the Quechua voices: Waqra meaning ′′horn′′ and Pukara meaning 'strength'. It would be thought then that Waqrapukara means ′Horned Fortress', but there is one important observation to this interpretation by the Indigenous people of the area, who indicate that this 'fortress' has no horns, but are 'the ears of a llama′, pointing out that it is always alert to what happens around it. This is why many still call it “Llaqta Pukara”. Whatever it's true name, it allows a magnificent view of the night sky that is ever populated with the constellations, planets and stars that were of enormous importance to the Qanchi's worldview.


This breathtaking site has always been linked with astrological observations and rituals. The largest peak has two 'highly reflective' stone surfaces midway up, and these surfaces were coated with something to cause the reflection, which, after all these years, still do. The stone angles are oriented towards the South and Southeast so at certain times of the year the stone catches the sunlight and shines brilliantly like a beacon. This signaled everyone in the surrounding areas that it was time for certain Solstice ceremonies, religious ceremonies, and near the time of the Equinoxes to plant or harvest their crops. The stones also reflect the Southern full moons.


The central platform has a large V notch on the western side. This points to a natural V shaped indent in the mountains to the East of it which frames the Equinox Sun when it rises. When looking West at sunset on this day the sun goes down in a spot that appears similar to the platform location, with two mountain peaks on either side of a indented area that the sun neatly fits into as it slowly sinks out of sight.


 At least two stones here were used as a measure of time by the various effects of light and shadow. The center stone in front of the double jamb niches lines up with the winter solstice in June, and a short wall behind and to the right of it lines up with Venus rising at 52 degrees three days later. This stone may also have been tied to moon phases and was the main ceremonial altar, although there is a 'spot' midway between the equinox marker and opposite wall that is also used.


 On the northern end is an enclosure, a room with two window niches that opens onto a small area with a triple jamb niche. Just the fact that there is a triple jamb niche denotes the importance of this site as a very important ceremonial center. In front of this is a large stone with a diagonally cut edge in the center, dropping the lower level down about 5 inches. The diagonal cut on it points to the direction of the northernmost moonset of the year.

 Behind this a section is built higher than the rest of the platform. There are 13 steps counting the base leading up. A small area nestled against the larger peak was for the 'high priest' for ceremonial use. There are also 3 large stones with with three different angles. One rectangular stone has a three sided stone set with it and this points to the northernmost moonrise.

 Five more structures are located at the southernmost end of the main platform. This center area has two single jamb niches and an E-shaped structure, flanked by a longitudinal wall with trapezoidal niches. The architecture here is adorned with carved stones adapted to the monuments walled sections and enclosures with access to small spaces; a central square oriented to the east by design, 'wak'as', and a partly natural tiny cave that was walled in by stonework with a window that looks out toward the Southeast. The view shows another mountain to the east with a slightly domed top and some rocky outcrops on the southern end of it. This would have been used for calculating sun movement, moon rise, planet and star positions at certain times during the year. It also afforded an excellent view of the lower southern section and anyone making the long climb up to the platform.



 Also on the southern end is a narrow lower terrace that features a curving wall along the outer edge of the terrace. This wall creates a small extended curving 'jut out' area that shows a beautiful feathered serpent shadow in the morning sunlight.


Here also are two single jamb niches and within this area is a small square pillar. It is placed to line up on one side with the December Solstice, and also lines up diagonally with the sun every Spring in August which are sacred festival days. These are still practiced locally by the Acomaya people with sacred celebrations both on the platform, performed by the local leaders, to tell the stories passed down from their ancestors to educate their children of their true history with song and dance.


Throughout the Andes, the Andean people still gather every year on sacred days to hold ceremony. One such day is the Andean New Year, Mushak Nina, that takes place near the time of the fall equinox in March, Pawkar Raymi. For the people of the high Andes, the date marks the beginning of the harvest. Other important dates are the solstices in December, (summer) (Kapak Raymi), winter in June (Inti Raymi), and the spring equinox in September, Kulla Raymi.


                                           The Ancient Sacred ~ Waqrapukara, Part Two


Waqrapukara is actually made up of four sections: The second and third sections are behind the main platform and peak 503 feet away. These are called the Hidden sectors and considered very sacred. These would have been reserved for use only by the ancient priests of long ago. There are some very, very ancient ruins on both, still partially standing and all but forgotten.



The larger of the two sections has a raised area with rocks on them which, when viewed with the sun at a certain angle, seems to show two faces gazing upwards. The one 'looks' toward the rising sun in the north, and the other towards the moon setting in the southwest. Could these refer to the sun and moon? Might these still, as in ancient times, align with the sun and the moon to measure the passing seasons? Behind these are some large boulders, one of which has a rounded base and what very possibly could be some ancient form of hieroglyphs.


The smaller, furthest away section has two rocks with a cleft between them. This cleft lines up with the winter solstice sunset. These rocks also make some very interesting features when viewed a certain way.


The fourth section is located well below the towering peaks, 229 feet across the valley to the east on the neighboring slope. This section has 8 walled terraces for farming. The terraces are 503 feet long, each one has a height of 5.8 feet with the retaining walls, and each has a stone stairway for easy access to the next level. The terraces produced the yearly crops for Waqrapukara's inhabitants and were well adapted to the topography of the land. This section also has an underground channel that provided water for the crops year round, and still does. There are also ruins of buildings, two or three of which have 5 single jamb niches each. At least one building has 5 window niches.


Waqrapukara's overall size measurements are significant. The widest section of the platform measures 67 feet. The length of the ceremonial platform from the triple jamb door to the jut out on the south end measures 175 feet, while the total length of the platform extending past the ceremonial terrace and around the side measures 247 feet. The narrowest part is merely 37.3 feet wide. The 'moon/sun' section is 148 ft long and 103 feet wide. The larger of the two 'horns is 215 feet long and 37.6 feet wide at the top and the overall length from the summer solstice marker to the south end of the platform is 867 feet, plus it is another 364 feet (straight line) to the base of the long winding climb up.

Besides all of it's other magnificence, Waqrapukara's central platform is a perfect viewing spot which presents a perfect view of the night sky's panorama of constellations, planets, and stars. This would have been of enormous value to the ancients, given the vast knowledge of the movements of our Solar System that has been handed down thru countless generations. Both peaks, and the peaks of the mountains around, would have been an important aspect in tracking the location and movements of specific planets, stars, and the moon, especially with planetary retrograde movements and the number of days before they would go direct again.


In the surrounding countryside there are many other vestiges of walled terraces, caves, and retaining walls both on the mountainsides and the lower areas. Some of the higher sections also have extensive old, neglected and crumbling stone wall sections. There are also many remnants of buildings, plazas and terraces along the trails leading here, showing that Waqrapukara once was the foremost important ceremonial center for a very large area. Close by along one of the trails there is a small cave with a few ancient skulls, of which at least three are elongated, one of them still decorated with hand made sisal much like our macrame of today.


Although the Inca took refuge here and seem to be given credit for it, they were not the original builders. According to information collected by Dr. Carlos Cesar Perafán we have the following description:

"Llaqta Pukara, would be the first name of this little llaqta, or city. Fray Sunday of Cabrera Lartaun and the scribe Juan De Moreira, on May 17, 1657 on his visit to Pomacanchi said the following: 'We affirm that Waqrapukara, was a shrine, because of the cave that is next to it. From the terracing, which has a capacity to host more than 50 people, it was the paqarina of the ethnic Qanchi. This cave was the first housing of the patriarch from the beginning, who, with 15 to 20 more people migrated from the land of Caral, North of Lima. Those of Caral were the first inhabitants of Peru and all South America and they were from Asia and Polynesia, passing through Easter Island to come to Caral". (Caral is dated at least 5000 yrs old)

Waqrapukara is believed to have been built by the pre-Inca Qanchi culture in the period called “Auqaruna” (1,500 BC – 1,000 BC) and there still exists an extremely strong possibility it could be much, much older. During this period, the complex was a ceremonial center called “Llaqta Pukara” and the headquarters of a leader of the Qanchis. It served both as an astronomical observatory and sanctuary of the god “Teqci Pachakamaq Wiraqocha” (the creator of all created things). Many, many centuries later, it was found by the Inca, who repaired and remodeled the constructions to their needs during the reign of Wayna Qhapaq.



Located only 38.2 m South from Cusco, Waqrapukara is one of the most difficult sites to reach of the ancient Andean world. There are 4 trails from 4 directions to arrive here, and all at least a two hour hike.

The videos (by drone)

Research by Joani Jiannine




August 30, 2021 at 12:53 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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