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Qeswachaka Inca Rope Bridge Tour takes you to one of the marvels of the Inca empire. Q’eswachaka (Keshwa Chaca) is one of renowned suspension bridges, located near Cusco. It is a rope bridge spanning 33 meters long with a width of 1.20 meters. The grass ropes bridge lies suspended 15 meters above Apurímac river. The name is a combination of two Quechua words. “Qeswa” signifies braid and “Chaka” means bridge.
While the Incas built Qhapaq Ñan, (The Great Inca Road), they faced many problems. The roadway spans to 25000 miles. It runs through different terrains. In order to overcome the challenge, they came up with suspension bridges. This allowed them to easily commute within the empire. These suspension bridges also had a vital role in linking the remote Andean communities.
Even though there is a modern bridge that connects the two communities. The locals here ritually keep the tradition alive. They are still practicing the trend left by their ancestors. The bridge is maintained and rebuilt every year by the local community. They charge a nominal fee from visitors which goes towards the recognition of the communal effort and their motive to keep the ancient tradition alive.
People from the four community (Chaupibanda, Huinchiri Peru, Ccollana Quehue and Choccayhua) gather every year to rebuild the bridge. It is a four days event.
Every year in the month of June, people from the four surrounding community gather to reconstruct the Q’eswachaka Inca Rope Bridge. This is a tradition that they have preserved for years and continue to.
This is a notable four days event. Infact, Nova and BBC have telecasted this as an independent documentary, The Last Bridge Master. In 2009 the government of Peru recognised the bridge as a cultural heritage. The government have started extending support in maintenance and awareness of its existence. It is also covered by the Museum of the American Indian.
Men from these four communities collect the straws (natural fibres) from the nearby fields. Andean culture has a lot of respect towards nature and cosmology. The spiritual head of the community prays to the mountain gods using kintu (three coca leaves). He then does an offering of corn to Pachamama (Mother Earth).
Once this is done they start constructing the bridge. Later in the evening the men split into two groups and start the process from both ends. They then braid these wires towards each other. During the process the fathers demonstrate the process to their children. This is a tradition that is kept alive by passing down from generation to generation.
The man who assumes the role of the engineer or head of the construction, indicates the men the process of untying the existing bridge. They are connected with nails. This is the most time consuming process.
The third day marks the end of the construction. They link the newly assembled rope bridge from both ends of the Aprurimac River.
Time to celebrate! People gather to commemorate the successful construction of the bridge. They celebrate the day with Andean folkloric music and dance. This is also accompanied with traditional food and beverages.
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