If you are planning to take a tour of Peru or Bolivia, do not come back without exploring the Lake Titicaca. Situated on the edge of Copacabana, this shimmering water body is famous among the backpackers for its blue charm. In addition, it is also one of the deepest, largest, and highest lakes on the globe. Not only from the tourist point of view, but Lake Titicaca also holds significance from the religious viewpoint. It is thought to be the birthplace of God Viracoca who emerged from the waters so that he could make life on Earth as per the Incan mythology. The religious significance becomes evident if you get a chance to a large temple that was recently spotted below the waters invoking many speculations.
The legend says that Viracoca after appearing from the lake made sun (Inti), stars, and moon (Mama Kilya) after the full globe was destroyed by floods. Then, he walked towards the nearby famous Tiahuanaco for bringing the first human beings on the planet named Mallku Kapac and Mama Ocllo – the Incan Adam and Eve made from stone. This is why the lake is the origin of the Incas whose souls are believed to come back here after death.
Today, for the tourists, Lake Titicaca is the home of over 40 islands of which a majority are considered holy. One such popular one is the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) that rests on the lake on the Bolivia side. As the name suggests, this atoll is worshipped as the home of Sun or Inti, the highest deity of the Incas. What is surprising of it is the fact that even though its size is not that big, it is geographically the largest of its kind here. As you go near to this island’s northern tip, you will encounter the town of Challapampa. This is no ordinary one, but is a wonder in its own right. Marvel at the fascinating Chinkana that refers to a maze of large stone complex. Many are of the opinion that this would have been the training site of the holy Inca men. Also, do note that surprisingly the construction is a bit loose, which means that the Incas were in a hurry to build it. After this, spot a natural spring that makes it way from beneath the atoll and reaches a sacred stone fountain in Yumani. From Chinaka when you return to the town, spot a sacred rock that is sculpted to look like a puma along the path as well as two giant footprints that are revered as that of the sun god himself who descended for begetting the Incan ‘Adam and Eve’.
Now, take the tour of the island’s southern tip where there is Yumani, the largest town. This is the home of the Inca steps that are 206 in number. If you wish to climb these steps, do so as you will be able to spot that holy fountain (spring) – this is the stone fountain of youth boasting three springs. I would recommend to stay on this island especially during the sunset as that view is very enticing and so not to be at all. Take this vista from the lighthouse that rises on the island’s highest point and also allows you to enjoy the reflections of the brightly colored sacred mountains in the deep blue water.
Now, turn your boat towards the Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon) that is revered as the abode of the Inca goddess Mama Quila. Whatever construction you see here was primarily the effort of the pre-Incan Aymara culture to which the Incas added their own touch later in form of the classical trapezoidal doors. At the time of the Incas, the island was the abode of some selected women who were obviously nuns and were known as the Virgins of the Sun. Their job was to make garments of wool and performing rites for the sun.
Some more fascinating islands on Lake Titicaca are on the Peru side, which are called the Uros Islands. These are also referred to as the Floating Islands or the artificial islands of reeds. This was where the descendents of the ancient Uros cult lived featuring traditional lifestyle and a blend of Catholic as well as Indian culture.
Best time to come
Come here on January 18 when celebrations are held in the honor of the two holy mountains called Paccha Mama (Mother Earth) and Paccha Tata (Father Earth). This is the day when the folks living nearby put on their traditional dresses and make an effort to hike these mountains and then descend in two different groups. On this successful reverence, they enjoy partying with grains and coca leaves.