Palanque as seen from the top of Templo de la Cruz
The ruins of Palanque set deep in a tropical rain
forest can command anyone's attention. The site, having been seriously
worked on for only about 50 years, has enough to attract renowned archaeologists
with the same vigour and expectations as dumb tourists.
of the first monuments that captures the attention is the Templo de las
Inscripciones (temple of the inscriptions). It was here that one of the
most important recent discoveries in Mexican archaeology was made - the
discovery of the tomb of Pakal. Pakal and his son, Kaan Balam II, are the
two most famous rulers of this jungle paradise. The discovery of the tomb
inside the pyramid challenged the accepted theory that all the pyramids
of this region were only used as temples and never as burial sites. Unfortunately,
the entry to the tomb is highly restricted. It is more often closed than
open to public. You should consider
yourself lucky to see the celebrated sarcophagus lid of Pakal in its original
form rather than gaping at its copy in one of the many museums in the country.
Templo de las Inscripciones
The biggest complex in the site is El Palacio,
home to soldiers, captives and priests during its heydays. The complex
houses a neat restored tower and a few gigantic relief of captive rulers.
The tallest pyramid in the ruins is the Templo
de la Cruz and if you are planning to climb only one structure, it has
to be this one. It gives an excellent bird's eye view of the whole ruins
and the surrounding forests.
Templo del Sol
Palanque's pyramids also houses many important
and impressive relief. The pick of these would be "Kaan Balam with a bounded
captive" in Templo XVIII, "Balam's accession to the throne" in Templo del
Sol, "Lord of the underworld smoking tobacco" and "Balam in full royal
attire" in Templo de la Cruz.