The Chinkanas are a set of intricate passages and network of underground galleries that are located in Cusco, very close to Sacsayhuaman and that would connect with the intra-earth world of the Incas. A researcher entered these underground labyrinths and managed to capture amazing images.
The Chinkanas (of the Quechua “chinkana”; place where one is lost) or also known as labyrinths, are mysterious caves made on limestone rock; It is not known whether it was the Incas or a civilization prior to them who did it, nor how, nor the purpose of its construction.
Around these mysterious constructions, we say ‘constructions‘ because it is notorious that they were made by the hand of man in some remote past, although part of it could be natural tunnels of geology, many conjectures, myths and legends have been woven: some claim that they were made by an unknown antediluvian civilization, and others say that it was the Incas who made these labyrinths to enter the bowels of the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and perform sacred rituals within it.
Different chroniclers have left data on the Inca chinkanas, and there is a theory that suggests that there is one of them that would be connected to the Koricancha, the ancient Golden Temple of Cusco.
Agnelio Oliva (1542-1572)
The Jesuit Father Agnelio Oliva (1542-1572), tells us that: “Huayna Cápac endowed with new, very sumptuous and large buildings and to it is attributed the construction of the underground labyrinth that they call Chincana, from which labyrinth there were exits to the border roads , bridges, fortresses and other buildings. “
Fray Martín de Morua (1590)
In a chronicle of 1590, written by Father Mercedario Fray Martín de Morua, in Chapter IX he tells us: “Of the great infant and Captain Ausi Topa son of the famous Topa Inga Yupanqui …… This courageous Captain Ausi Topa was the that by mandate of his father, he made a path under the earth in the fortress of this city of Cuzco to Curicancha which was where they had the temple and oratory of the sun and the moon and of all the other huacas they worshiped, until the entrance of this socabón in the said fortress where they called the chingana although everything is already lost and finished, because there is no one who can see where it is going, but it is only the entrance, because in entering some stretch they are lost and they cannot find the way. Because there is no memory of it in the said place of the Curicancha and they say that the Inga had it closed because no one entered inside. It was as said it is “.
Garcilaso de la Vega (1609)
Garcilaso de la Vega (Royal Comments of the Incas, 1609) explains that:
“A network of underground passages, as long as the towers themselves were all connected. The system was composed of streets and malls starting in all directions, all with identical doors. It was so complicated that even the bravest did not venture into the labyrinth without an orientation guide that consisted of a roll of rope or thick brabant attached to the entrance door to be unwound as it advanced through the tunnels. As a child I used to go to the fort with the boys my age, but we did not dare to go far, always staying in places where there was sunlight, because we were very afraid of getting lost, after hearing all the stories that Indians told us about the place ………. ”
Garcilaso continues pointing out: “Some of the tunnels reached Cusco, three kilometers away, communicating Saqsaywamán with the Koricancha and other buildings. Other tunnels went into the very heart of the Andes, not knowing exactly where they were leading. ”
Investigations into these labyrinths became important again in 2003, when the international press echoed after the discovery of a large underground tunnel two kilometers long in the Cusco subsoil. Finding was done as a result of the work carried out by the KORICANCHA PROJECT by the Spanish archaeologist Anselm Pi Rambla and his exploration team, who says that this tunnel connects Sacsayhuamán with the Koricancha (current temple of Santo Domingo).
In addition Anselm Pi Rambla added that the tunnel discovered was only a small part of a large network of galleries, cameras and mausoleums that surely extended under the floor of the city, as seemed to indicate all the results made with modern and sophisticated radar equipment, which pointed out among other points that, different tunnels, communicated the current Convent of Santo Domingo with the Convent of Santa Catalina or Marcahuasi, with the Cathedral or Temple of the Inca Wiracocha, with the Palace of Huáscar, with the Temple of Manco Cápac or Colcampata and with the Huamanmarca. Let’s not forget that the current Catholic churches were built on top of, destroying or hiding, the ancient Inca sacred places. These galleries are located about 100 meters deep under the city of Cusco, according to the researcher.
There are legends that tell the story of adventurers who entered the big chinkana to never return, among them the story of 2 young people who went on an adventure and went to explore these tunnels. After several days walking among the sliding, they managed to find a golden corn, after their discovery they tried to find the exit, but they could not. In desperation one of them died in the attempt, his partner, after many days of effort, managed to find a way out of the church of Santo Domingo, dying shortly after with the ear of gold in his hand.
The most accessible chinkanas of the city of Cusco can be found in two sectors that are part of Sacsayhuamán, but not all of them manage to enter and film them as did the researcher Rafa Mercado, whose video we can see below. The chinkana chica is located 150 meters from the taxiway or Suchuna, is the smallest and is accessible to the public, because its route is short, and the chinkana grandeo also called as Tired Stone or Tired Stone, is located 200 meters from the small , but it is totally closed to the public. Nobody is allowed to access these caves because many people got lost, for that reason it is known with the name of Zone X. The denomination “X” is also due to the fact that from a great height the cave set draws this letter, as if the place would have been marked or conceived from the skies of Cusco. In addition, stone sculptures can be found that closely resemble those found in Hayumarca (Puno) and Marcahuasi.
This unexplored sector of Cusco, little by little, becomes a tourist attraction, more because of the fame of strange phenomena that say that they happen there and the mysteries that its construction contains than by a historical or archaeological interest.