Running around Chichen Itza

Well got in this morning quite early, right after midnight into Le Meridien. Nice hotel and lots of pools. It has been about 8 years since I was last in Cancun and I will say that it has changed a lot since then. Very very developed and chains and franchises everywhere to be seen. The hotels themselves were rebuilt after Hurricane wilma and you can definitely tell. Most of the hotels are completely new or newly renovated.

Le Meridien is one of those hotels, with a number of pools and very good facilities. So of course, when i checked in Got the usual Platinum room for 50$ but the concierge desk was closed (?)… since the concierge should always be up and all. Anyway they arranged a tour with Cancun Tours. Quite pricy though for the tour, about 1000 pesos, so about 100 USD.

Well the tour came on time and there was breakfast and juice on board as well as a waitress on board to serve everyone. I was most impressed by this…


The trip from Cancun to Chichen Itza was about 3 hours with the mandatory stop at the tourist trap to buy stuff. I did find a great machine made Mexican rug, and I had to barter the price down from 900 pesos to 325 pesos. Man must these guys make some money when I could hit them down that low for the rug.

Once we got to Chichen Itza, it was everything that I read about i.e. it being a tourist trap since everyone from Merida, Cozumel and Cancun do day trips to this place, so it was like a tourist bomb has exploded there.


I do recognize the irony of me talking about this, since I myself was doing the tourist thing and all, but I was backpacking my way through and I have seen all the temples, so I am allowed to get on my high horse for a little bit. The structure and the complex itself is impressive but in my mind, it really wasn’t as impressive as Tikal at all. Tikal is the largest pyramid of all the Mayan temples, but yet since Chichen Itza has all the tourists, it was voted on the new 7 wonders. I dont completely agree with the choice but in the end, what do the little tourists really know.

It was scorching hot and reminded me of angkor Way in the way that the heat radiated of the rocks and structures. There was also one long structure that had a snake end like the apsara heads in Angkor Wat.

Kukulcán pyramid

The massive Kukulcán pyramid called “El Castillo” (the castle) is roughly at the center of the site. Climbing it is quite a challenge and those who make it are rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and surrounding country side.

From the other angle

The construction of the Kukulcán Pyramid at Chichén Itzá was planned so that each Vernal Equinox the dying sun would cast a shadow of a serpent writhing down the steps of the pyramid. Every year over 40,000 people make the trek to the great pyramid to watch in awe as the snakes diamond backed body slowly appears.  

If you stand facing the foot of the temple and shout the echo comes back as a piercing shriek.

Also, a person standing on the top step can speak in a normal voice and be heard by those at ground level for some distance. This quality is also shared by another Mayan pyramid at Tikal.

The Temple of the Warriors 

The Temple of the Warriors and its adjacent Temple of the Jaguar are the most awe inspiring ruins on the complex. A massive temple structure, surrounded by hundreds of columns is carved with reliefs. I wandered into the rows of columns with the sun just coming up and hard.

The columns continue on into the jungle, that part of the temple still has not been restored. It’s an unsettling sight to see how easily the forest has reclaimed the area. What unanswered questions lay under the canopy of leaves and beneath the twisted roots.

The Observatory

The intense interest of the Maya in the annual travels of the sun across the sky is evident in many structures at Chichén Itzá and other Mayan Sites. South of the Castillo is a strange round building known as the Carocal. Several of its windows point towards the equinox sunset and the southernmost and northernmost points on the horizon where Venus rises.

One of the nice things about Chichén Itzá is that you can go in almost all of the ruins. Many have the musty smell of the past, still present after over 1000 years. Dark portals await those that dare walk through. After walking into one pitch black room a startled meter long iguana charged through my shaking legs and out into the jungle. It felt like a seen from “Indiana Jones” It’s nice that despite all the reconstruction and tourists, the place can still grab hold of you like that.

The great Ball Court at Chichen Itza

The Mayans were great sportsmen and build huge ballcourts to play their games. The Great Ballcourt of Chichén Itzá is 545 feet long and 225 feet wide overall. It has no vault, no discontinuity between the walls and is totally open to the sky. 


Each end has a raised “temple” area. A whisper from end can be heard clearly at the other end 500 feet away and through the length and breath of the court. The sound waves are unaffected by wind direction or time of day/night. Archaeologists engaged in the reconstruction noted that the sound transmission became stronger and clearer as they proceeded. In 1931 Leopold Stokowski spent 4 days at the site to determine the acoustic principals that could be applied to an open-air concert theater he was designing. Stokowski failed to learn the secret. To this day it has not been explained.

The more of these temples and structures across the world that I see, I realize that there is a certain similarity about all these structures and really does make me question the revisionist Catholic history that we have been subjected though time. When you go to Palenque and you see the carving from Hindu, Hebrew, and Egyptian cultures, and you look at the relative timelines of what they say the new world was discovered, I think there are some really huge holes in the history of what has been told.

Anyway touring the structures in Chichen Itza was complete, again nothing really profound to think about, got the usual good pics and all. Then it was off to the
Cenoté which  deep water filled sinkholes formed by water percolating through the soft limestone above. Since the porous soil held little water, these underground bodies were extremely important to the city.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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