The Intihuatana (or Intiwatana) is referred to as the Hitching Post of the Sun – as that is what many experts think its function was, to symbolically tie the sun the the earth at the two equinoxes so it could not move further in the sky. At the time of an equinox the perfectly carved 14 degree angled stone has no shadow, yet does have one all day and all year round when not an equinox.
But this is not the only interesting feature, a whole host of angles and sides align exactly with sacred mountains such as Huayna Picchu and the angle of light that hits them in during particular solstices.
The Spanish never found this site, and if they did they would have destroyed the Intihuatana like everywhere else. However, the Intihuatana is not wholly undamaged. According to a historian representing the Peruvian Government on the Hiram Bingham expedition, Jose Gabriel Cosio, the Intihuatana had a stone ring that sat on top of the highest part of the single piece of carved rock. When he left Hiram Bingham to his work and returned several months later he found that it the stone ring that sat on top had been ripped off and was nowhere to be found. Perhaps Bingham, who this wouldn’t be his first time to have damaged Inca ruins, covered up his accident, or perhaps stole the ring along with the hundreds of over artefacts taken from Peru on behalf of Yale University and refuse to return.
When one of our free-tour guides arrived he told the tourists that at the time of an equinox hundreds of new-age hippies descend on the Intihuatana to absorb some kind of spiritual energy and with their hands stretched out to touch the stone get a moment of clarity and cosmic understanding. The guide urged the group to see if they can feel anything, many of them did, which made for some excellent photos.