A popular beach holiday destination, Mexico is known for its world-class archaeological sites, intriguing history and exotic forests.
Bisti Badlands aka Egg Factory is one of the hotspots among travellers. Tucked away in San Juan County, it is a 45,000-acre wilderness area. This place is home to hoodoos and strange sandstone formations. Due to extraordinary weathering patterns, these sandstone formations look alien in nature and hence the name, Alien Eggs. Some of the wildlife found here include Prairie dogs, Coyote, Cottontail rabbits, Golden eagles, Tarantulas, Pinyon jays and Ferruginous hawks.
When we think of pyramids, we think of Egypt, right? But, Teotihuacán in Mexico also houses some of the largest ancient pyramids across the globe. Popularly known as ‘City of the Gods’, this archaeological site is home to the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, Temple of Quetzalcoatl and Museo Teotihuacán. The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pyramid in the complex and offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains whereas the Pyramid of the Moon is a medium sized pyramid. The Temple of Quetzalcoatl aka Temple of the Feathered Serpent is adorned with stone serpent heads. Museo Teotihuacán features a miniature recreation of the entire site and artefacts displaying Teotihuacan Culture like pottery and the like.
Nestled in the state of Puebla, Popocatepetl meaning ‘Smoking Mountain’ is an active stratovolcano, with a history of more than 15 eruptions since 1519. It is 17,802 feet high,
containing a steep-walled, 1,300 ft × 2,000 ft wide crater. Snow Excuse, the 1966 Merrie Melodies cartoon film, is set on this stratovolcano.
The pre-Columbian archaeological site of El Tajín is situated in the Veracruz state. It is home to buildings, temples and palaces adorned with ancient Mesoamerican architecture; the most popular monument being the 'Pyramid of the Niches'. Interesting fact about the Pyramid of the Niches is that contained 365 niches, revealing its connection to the solar year.
Cabo San Lucas
Shimmering beaches, watersports and vibrant nightlife are the attributes that best define, Cabo San Lucas. Popular activities to indulge include snorkelling at Los Arbolitos Beach, spotting sea lions at the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, exploring the galleries at Todos Santos town, savouring sumptuous Mexican cuisines at Mi Casa and surfing at Cabo Corridor.
Tucked away in the Tinúm Municipality of the Yucatán State, the pre-Columbian city of Chichen Itza was built by the Mayans. The artistic stone monuments of this place reveal the Maya and Toltec vision of the universe. El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcan) - the step-pyramid, El Caracol - the circular observatory and the Temple of the Warriors are some of the notable attractions of Chichen Itza.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Palacio de Bellas Artes aka Palace of Fine Arts is a magnificent cultural centre with exhibition halls for painting and sculpture. Excellent murals by Mexico’s famous artists like Roberto Montenegro, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera attract art enthusiasts to this palace. It houses the National Theatre and National Museum of Architecture and hosts events like opera, literature, art, dance and music.
Situated close to Usumacinta River in the Chiapas state, the Palenque Ruins are a crowd-puller. It is home to breathtaking stone temples and beautiful waterfalls. Fascinating thing about this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the sculptures and intricate hieroglyphics on the stones that belong to the Mayan era. This place attracts approximately 1100 visitors on an average day.
Recall this beautiful waterfall amidst forests? Well, this is Agua Azul Waterfall in Chiapas state. It is the place where the climax of popular science fiction film ‘Predator’ was shot. In the months of April and May which happens to be the dry season here, the water appears scintillating blue due to high amount of dissolved limestone. Travellers can book their accommodation in nearby tourist centres to experience the exotic beauty of this haven.
Day of the Dead
One of the popular festival of Mexico is ‘Day of the Dead’. It falls between 31st October and 2nd November. It is that time of the year when the the Mexicans remember their departed loved ones. A colourful and vibrant festival, the locals visit the cemeteries, decorate the graves and pay tribute to the spirit of their deceased ones.
Cuisines to relish
When in Mexico, you can tease your taste buds to mouth-watering cuisines like tamale, torta and tacos. Must-try restaurants include Nicos, El Cardenal, Pujol, La Abuela, Café Villarías, Los Cocuyos, Comedor Jacinta, Contramar and Quentin Cafe.
Souvenirs to pick
Places to shop include Playa del Carmen for colourful Mexican sombreros, artistic accessories, hammocks and shirts and Ah Cacao Cafe for lip-smacking chocolates.
The official language of Mexico is Spanish. There are 68 indigenous languages; some of them include Yucatec Maya, Nahuatl, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mayo and Ayapanec.
North America’s largest wildcat, the jaguar, is found in the southern jungles of Mexico.
Chihuahua which is the smallest breed of dog, is named after the Mexican state, ‘Chihuahua’.
Mexico’s current population comprises of many civilizations like Maya, Zapotec, Inca, Toltec, Aztec, Olmec, Spanish, French and the African.
The world's second-smallest rabbit, after the pygmy rabbit, is the volcano rabbit that is found in the the mountains of Mexico.
On January 6, celebrated as the day of arrival of the Three Wise Men, the Mexican kids receive gifts contrary to other kids from across the globe who receive it on Christmas Day.
In 1519, when Hernan Cortés, the Spanish Conquistador came to Mexico, the locals believed that he was Quetzalcoatl, their returning god. To welcome him, they offered him hot chocolate, the drink of the gods.
Author : Vijaylaxmi Thakur