Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mexico: Pre-Hispanic City of Palenque and Cascadas de Agua Azul

As we moved further south to Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, we finally entered the Mayan Region. The Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were the first Mayan ruins we visited during our trip. Palenque dates back to 226BC to around 799AD.

It was most convenient for us to take a day-tour around the ruins, which included afternoon stops at two waterfalls: Misol-Ha and Agua Azul. Expect to spend MX$420 which includes approximately MX$250 for the tour, MX$140 for entrance fees (MX$27 park entrance, MX$54 for the ruins, MX$20 for Misol-Ha and MX$38 for Agua Azul) and your meals.

We spent the morning at the Palenque ruins. Among the most important structures at the site is the Temple of the Inscriptions, the largest Mesoamerican stepped pyramid at Palenque, built as a funerary monument to K'inich Janaab' Pakal (Pacal the Great), ruler of Palenque.

Another major structure is the palace and its aqueduct, which was built by several generations of Palenque's rulers over a four century period. It is the largest structure in Palenque.

There are many other notable temples which can be found in the site. But it's interesting to note that what has been discovered and restored is only less than 10 percent of the ancient city as most of it remains covered by jungle.

The site also has a museum where artifacts from the ruins are on display.

In the afternoon, we visited the falls. Our first stop was Cascada Misol-Ha. It's not really spectacular but since it's part of the tour, might as well check it out.

But the next stop was definitely worth it. Don't forget to bring swimming gear for the Cascadas de Agua Azul since you'll be given time to go for a swim. On the way to Agua Azul, I noticed a sign saying that we were in Zapatista rebel territory, reminding us of the conflict in Chiapas.

The Cascadas de Agua Azul were a refreshing sight. It's distinct aquamarine blue waters add to its natural beauty.

We ended the day back at downtown Palenque. As always, we had our fix of authentic Mexican tacos for dinner. The tasty assorted grilled meats, onions and cilantro in a corn tortilla and a zest of lemon will definitely make your mouth water. Now I'm hungry!
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