While Cancun enjoys its fame as a party place and Mexico City soaks in the glory of its culture and food, very few people know about Yaxchilan—the ancient Mayan city. By Tara Choudhary
Yaxchilan on the banks of Usumacinta River in the state of Chiapas, close to the border with Guatemala has dominated similar smaller sites in the past. It has also rivalled and warred with some others and is within a driving distance of other big archaeological sites in Chiapas such as Bonampak, Palenque and Piedras Negras.
The Yaxchilan Archaeological Park is open throughout the week from 9 am to 5 pm. The entry is charged at a minuscule $10 (INR 715) and is completely worth the price. The park is best known for having preserved over 120 structures that have been the foundation of this city. The area is divided into three parts — the Great Plaza, the Grand Acropolis and the Small Acropolis.
To get inside, you can take a small boat, which will drop you at a pier where the ticket booths, rest rooms, drink stands and the tour guides are. From here you go through a dark tunnel until you enter the main plaza surrounded by impressive ruins, palaces and temples. The most popular points of interest are usually the numerous carvings on stone blocks and the many carved hieroglyphics that each tell their own stories.
You can get to Yaxchilan by air, bus or car from other cities, however you must take a boat ride to complete the final stretch to the ancient Mayan city. The weather is usually hot and humid, so it is important to wear loose, comfortable cotton clothing and sunscreen to protect yourself. It is also important to wear sturdy shoes as you will have to walk a lot within the city of Yaxchilan.