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Palenque is set against the backdrop of a lush jungle and is perhaps one of the most mystical of Maya archeological sites.

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This page includes a slide show with images of many of Palenque's principal attractions. You will also find QuickTime movies of King Pacal's tomb, the Waterfalls at Palenque and the Agua Azul waterfalls. Palenque is located in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. As you can see from the images, Palenque is surrounded by much natural beauty, including almost magical waterfalls. Click on the waterfall image to the right to see a Quicktime movie of this beautiful waterfall.

King Pacal: Palenque is probably most well known for the tomb of its famous King Pacal inside of the Temple of the Inscriptions which, like the tombs of Egypt's pharoahs, is buried deep within a specially built pyramid. King Pacal was born in the year 603 A.D. and is said to have reigned for 67 years until his death at the age of 80. Perhaps the lid of Pacal's tomb, referred to by some as The Lid Pacal's Tombof Paleneque, is the most photographed, reproduced and written about stone work of its kind. Before I went to Palenque, I saw Eric Von Däniken in a TV documentary referring to the lid as protraying an Aztec Astronaut (due to the apparent flames underneath where Pacal sat and the appearance that he was steering a vessel). Apparently, this theory is also part of his book, Chariots of the Gods. In reality, Pacal was neither Aztec nor an astronaut. Reputable archeologists have long ago concluded that the lid represents Pacal at the moment of his death descending into the underworld of Xibalba via the Tree Of Life. Click on the image of the Lid of Palenque to see a QuickTime movie. Click here for Hi-bandwidth version (4.5MB/100 Kbps).

New Age Movement: The father of the new age movement, Jose Argüelles, has written many interesting books about the Maya, many of which are quite esoteric, mathematical, and frequently difficult to follow. These include The Mayan Factor and Surfers of the Zuvuya. (I recommend these for your reading.) He has also developed his own version of the Maya calendar and claims to have received one or more important prophecies from King Pacal or, as he and some others call him, Pacal Votan. This prophecy is refered to as the Telektenon. Many others have followed Jose and built a virtual practice and business teaching others about Maya cosmology and leading tours to Palenque, Chichen Itza and other famous Maya ceremonial centers.

I'm very curious why many North American leaders of various new age type religions or belief systems have gravitated towards the Maya and their ancient beliefs (I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, given my own interest). I am also a bit concerned that perhaps some of them may be opportunists who see the adherents of the various new age spiritual movements as a cash cow and, in the process, may be misrepresenting and contaminating the underlying beliefs of the Maya who today continue to practice many of their ancient traditions. This is purely my opinion, of course.

The story of Pacal and Palenque is very rich and fascinating and is worth picking up a book or two if you have any interest in the subject. An excellent treatment of King Pacal and Palenque can be found in A Forest of Kings by Linda Schele and David Freidel.

Agua Azul WaterfallsAgua Azul: Travel to Palenque is easiest via Villahermosa in the state of Tobasco, Mexico. When I visited, the highways and Palenque itself were heavily patrolled by Mexican soldiers given their conflicts with the local Maya and Zapatistas of Chiapas. Once in Palenque, a trip to Agua Azul is a must do. It takes about 2 hours by car to get there from Palenque. Click on the image of the waterfall to see a QuickTime movie.

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