The Inca civilisation flourished in South America before the conquest by the Europeans. According to folklores, the empire was founded by Mama Ocllo and Ayar Manco by fighting against the inhabitants of Cusco and conquering their lands. The civilisation had an estimated population of about four million people, who spoke the Quechua language. Four regions or suyus made up the empire and their borders met in the capital of Cusco. They worshipped many deities and believed in the theory of rebirth. Human sacrifice and deliberate deforming of skulls were common among the Inca people. Many studies and researches have been conducted to understand their culture and way of living, but little is known. The interest of people in this civilisation grew particularly after the discovery of Machu Picchu, which can be visited with Peru tour packages.
Machu Picchu is situated in the southeast of Peru, at an elevation of 7970 feet from sea level. The site was built in 1450 above the Sacred Valley. The Incas abandoned it in 1572 in the wake of the Spanish invasion and it remained forgotten for almost three centuries. After being rediscovered in 1911, it instantly became a hit among tourists. Several theories have been formulated on the purpose of its construction and its usage. The site has two distinct sectors: urban and agrarian. Two towns are situated at different levels on the mountain. The upper town has temples while the lower one has warehouses. Buildings are built on terraces, surrounding a square aligned in the east-west direction. Well-planned channels facilitated irrigation in the extensively-cultivated contour farms. Staircases, built to connect the various levels, can still be seen by visitors.
Apartments were situated in the eastern section while temples and other religious structures in the western. A tower, probably used as an observatory, is present in the western section.
Intiwatana is a stone structure here, which could have been used as a sundial to keep track of time.
A feast, dedicated to the sun, was celebrated inside a specially-carved cave known as Inti Machay. According to accounts, only the nobles attended the party, which was associated with the winter solstice. Boys of the nobles entered manhood on this day by having their ears pierced. The cave utilises some of the finest masonry in the whole civilisation that can be seen in its entrance gates, steps, walls and windows. A window shaped like a tunnel is unique to the site. It was purposely built in this way to allow sunlight to enter inside during the solstice. The cave is located in the eastern sector of Machu Picchu.
The Incas were masters of construction and their buildings are a testament to their expertise. Polished bricks and dry stones were cut to make them fit one another without the use of cement or mortar. This method helped the buildings remain intact during earthquakes. Chips that were carved off of the stones were used to check the damage caused BY landslides, which were common due to the high amount of rain. These chips, along with dirt and soil, formed the three layers of the terraced farms. Machu Picchu is a great destination to include in a world tour package by visitors.