Photos of Isla del Sol, sacred island of the Incas, Bolivia

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Isla del Sol, sacred island of the Incas

Isla del Sol, the Island of the Sun, is considered the birthplace of the Sun in Inca mythology; It is the original place of the bearded white god Viracocha and the children of Inti, the Andean deity identified as the Sun, the first Inca, Manco Capac, and his sister, Mama Huasca or Mama Ocllo, who, according to custom, was also his wife.

Inca ruin, Isla del Sol
 
Doorway of Pilco Kaima
 
View to Yampupata
 
Foot path, Isla del Sol
 
Girls of Isla del Sol
 
View to Isla de la Luna
 
To Fuente del Inca
 
View from Isla del Sol
 
Lago Titicaca from Yumani
 
Village of Yumani
 
Man of Yumani
 
Donkeys and llamas
 
Village courtyard, Yumani
 
Donkeys of Yumani
 
View to Challa
 
Road to Challapampa
 
Leading her cows
 
Near Challa village
 
The road near Challa
 
View to Challapampa
 
At Roca Sagrada
 
Titikala (the Sacred Rock)
 
Posada del Sol
 
Laberinto Chincana
 
Farms near Challapampa
 
Challapampa village
 
Llamas, Isla de la Luna
 
Palace of the Virgins
 
View from Isla de la Luna
 
Inca wall
 
On Isla de la Luna
 
Escalera del Inca
 
Fuente del Inca, Titicaca
 
Woman with llama
 
Village women
 
Making music
 

Manco Capac is said to have emerged from a prominent crag in a large sandstone outcrop known as Titikala (Roca Sagrada or Sacred Rock) in the northern part of the island. In another version of the myth, there was no light in the sky for many days and people grew frightened of the darkness. Finally, they saw the Sun emerge from the crag and believed it was the Sun's dwelling place. Still another version tells that the crag was dedicated to the Sun because it hid under it during a great Flood. When the waters receded, the island was the first land to appear and the Sun emerged from Titikala lighting the sky once again.

Isla del Sol remains a sacred place for the local Quechua and Aymara people; the Aymara name of the island is Titi'kaka. There are many Inca sites on the island, like Pilco Kaima, set about 20 m above the lakeshore, a palace with its characteristic trapezoid doorways. Further on is the village of Yumani with its guesthouse, Posada del Inca Malku, offering great views over the lake and the snowcapped peaks beyond on the one hand and rural village life on the other. The small village of Challa, on the way to Challapampa, is another farming community with thatched farm houses and llama and donkey corrals. The village has a small museum with medallions, vases, puma-faced incense burners and other artefacts of the pre-Inca Tiahuanaco culture recovered here. A footpath leads towards the attractively situated village of Yampupata, on the northern part of Isla del Sol. Not far from Yampupata is the Sanctuary Area, the focal point of solar worship for the Inca and other prehistoric cultures on the Island of the Sun. A temple was built by this rock and later extended by the 10th Inca Tupac Inca Yupanqui. About 300 meters southwest of Titikala (Roca Sagrada or Sacred Rock) is an elaborate Inca ruin called the Chincana (the Labyrinth), Its walls were once covered with mud plaster and had been painted in various colours. There are trapezoidal doors and niches indicative of Inca architecture. Many rooms within the Chincana are connected by twisting passageways, giving a maze-like feeling to this complex, earning it the name of Laberinto Chincana. It is believed that it housed the women who cared for the shrine at Titikala.

On the eastern shore of Isla del Sol is Escalera del Inca, a long Inca stairway that leads from the beach 205 steps up to the stone fountain, the Fuente del Inca, with natural spring water spilling down channels along the ancient stone steps. The fountain has three spouts, each supposedly fed by an individual spring. There are great views from the foot path above the Fuente del Inca, across the lake towards the smaller Isla de La Luna; children pose with llamas for tips but otherwise life in these farming communities go on as is has done for centuries.

Koati or Isla de la Luna lies to the east of the bigger Isla del Sol. According to legends that refer to Inca mythology it is the place where the god Viracocha commanded the rising of the moon. The Palacio de las Virgenes del Sol (Palace of the Virgins of the Sun) was an Inca nunnery on the eastern shore of the island. Only a few families live here.