32 kms form Puno are the Chullpas (pre-Columbian funeral towers) of Sillustani, beautifully set on a peninsula in Lake Umayo surrounded by stark altiplano. The Chullpas were built by the Aymara-speaking Collas - a tribe that dominated the Titicaca region before the Incas. Each tower contained the remains of Colla nobility accompanied by their riches. Grave robbers have since removed their contents, although the towers are well preserved and well worth seeing. The engineering involved in their construction is more complex than anything the Incas built. Two of the towers are unfinished: one with a ramp still in place to raise blocks; the other with cut stones ready to go on a very ambitions dome.
Most tours from Puno depart for the ruins in the early afternoon (about 2:30pm) and include private return transport, English speaking guide and entrance fees. Typical cost is US$12 per person. Take some warm clothes as it can get quiet chilly even if the skies are blue.
Chucuito Fertility Temple, Inca Uyo
Located 18 km south of Puno, Chucuito is one of the oldest towns in the area and is surrounded by farming fields that slope gently down to Lake Titicaca. The town was once the capital of the whole province and has colonial churches on its two main squares. Nuestra Señora de la Asunción has a Renaissance facade from 1601 and sits near the upper Plaza de Armas. The second church, Santo Domingo, is L-shaped with beautifully painted stone arches, a wooden altar carved in pan de oro, and a single ancient stone tower.
Inca Uyo is a walled enclosure next to Santo Domingo church that looks, at first glance, like a garden of giant mushrooms. But upon closer inspection, the mushrooms are carved stone penises, some pointing up at the sky (presumably toward Inti, the Inca sun god) and others rammed into the ground (toward Pachamama, Mother Earth goddess).
The walled enclosure dates from Inca times, as do the collection of carved stones. However the locals agree that the stones were collected from other locations and placed at the enclosure.
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