Something that keeps you in mystery for a long time and then one day; you stand facing it. What feeling does it evoke in you? Joy? Disbelief? Mix of emotions; disbelief at first and then it slowly settles in. I’ve been dreaming about Tikal since my school days when I first learnt about Mayan civilization. In the rain forest jungles of Guatemala is the 2000 year old pre-Columbian Mayan complex of Tikal.
I did not think twice to book a ticket to Guatemala from California when I had to visit the US on business this July. I always wanted to experience Tikal and this was the time. Hairline fracture in my right ankle did not deter me from doing this trip.
Enveloped by lush rain forests; the monuments of Tikal is spread across and so the hike from one to another can take long. The humidity of rain forest can be unforgiving; with mosquitoes and insects making it worse. But it is all worth for what you’d witness; for what is seen hidden in this deep jungle is the archeological equivalent of shock, awe and disbelief. Six temple pyramids dominate the skyline; how did they manage to build them? How did they manage to transport resources when wheel was not discovered yet?
I just sat there for a while and staring at the Grand Plaza. This is the most recognized view of Tikal and is a centerpiece flanked by Temple 1 – Temple of Great Jaguar and Temple 2 – Temple of Masks. A climb to Temple 2 gives you a panoramic view of the Grand Plaza and is an awesome view.
Temple 4 is the tallest and an ascent rewards you with all the temples playing hide n seek in the jungle.
Tikal left me dazed. While I was there; I had to remind myself many times that it was for real. The strenuous trek; untying and tying my ankle binder many a time and popping pain killer was worth it. The feeling is indescribable. It takes you back in time; to marvel an intelligent civilization who were well ahead of the time and got extinct before the Spanish conquest.
The jungle, those stone edifices are ready to tell you rich stories if you listen to them. They beckon you into a mysterious world; making you wonder if you pressed a stone or go close to a chamber and pressed your ear by the cold wall; you could perhaps hear a voice or a secret chamber would open to reveal treasures.
Tikal does not diminish the mystery that enshrouds it.