Ever since some European backpackers told me in broken English that “We make pictures at Penis temple”, I was curious to check that place out.
Chucuito (चुकुअीतो) is a little village about 18 km south of Puno along the coast of Lake Titicaca. There is nothing much to see here except for an archeological site called “Inca Uyo” (अीन्का अुयो). “Uyo”, in Quechuan (one of the original ‘native’ language of central Andes and the second largest spoken languages in Peru) literally means ‘penis’.
Dedicated to that idea, was the ancient Temple of Fertility at Chukuito. The site contains dozens of mushroom shaped erect penises few feet long. They are symbolically pointing towards the Inti (Sun God) and Pacha mama (Mother Earth).
Someone told me that on specific days, virgin women arrive here at night, perform rituals to the God of fertility and sit on the phalluses. It is a symbolic ritual to increase their fertility.
A fake site?
I was surprised that the Spanish left this site intact while they destroyed most of other Incan/Pagan temples. Infact, there is a large colonial church right next to this temple! The other thing I observed (and is quite obvious) was that the penises were circumcised… something that the Incas did not do. Some articles question the authenticity of the temple in its current form, although the authenticity of the stones itself is not questioned. Someone might just have rearranged and touristified what was otherwise a broken temple.
I purchased some phallic souvenirs and came back to Puno.
Look! A foreigner
Traveling with local people in the crowded Combi was the best part of this journey. They were all staring at me, watching my every action, and even laughing at my broken Spanish. 🙂 Earlier that day, a roadside banana seller told me in Spanish how to go to Chucoito (I was nodding as if I understood everything). From the local Collectivo stop in Puno, a ride to Chucuito costs only Uno (one) sol. The lady money collector however was teasing me and asking for “Uno Americano Dólar, Señor” (अुनो अामेरीकान्यो दोलर, सेन्योर) while I went “Si” (सी=yes) and joined the laughter.
A Collectivo could be any vehicle such as a bus, mini van or a car that is used for public transport. Specifically, a Combi is a shared taxi. The driver will wait until the vehicle is full and then leave. Often he will stuff more people in. Combi’s in Peru are the same as ‘Tuk-Tuk’ or ‘Phat-Phat’ (or any other names I dont know) in India or ‘Sherut’ in Israel or ‘Marshrutka’ in Russia or ‘Jitney’ in US/Canada.
The rest of the town is pretty much typical – A Plaza de Armas, Churches, few shops around and houses and fields.