Hi, Everybody! Today, I’d like to share with you my well-researched article on a mysterious place existing in the dense jungles of Honduras in Central America.
This article and a lot many interesting details were part of my epic book titled “Mexico: A grand voyage through the fascinating land with ancient links to India” which I completed in 2010. I set aside these incredible details when I converted the epic book into three e-books Discovering Mexico, Mexico: The Country, Its History & The Maya World and A Guide To Mexican Cuisine which are available for sale on this blog. But I’ll be sharing with you the said information on this blog from time to time. Earlier, I had written about the Hindu and Maya concept of time on this blog which you can read by clicking on this link: The Hindu & The Maya Philosophy Of Time
So here today’s post…
The paintings on Classic Maya potteries among other things depicted mythological characters like the Maya Hero Twins and the howler monkeys. The howler monkey god was a major patron of the arts, including music among the Classic Maya, especially among the scribes and sculptors. The monkey patrons – often two of them – have been depicted on Classic vases in the act of writing books and carving human heads. Among the most famous Classic Period representations of the howler monkey god is the sculpture of a seated howler monkey writer found within the House of the Scribes in Copan in Honduras. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, the howler monkeys continued to be venerated although the role played by them in mythological narratives as well as their names were different.
In India, the Monkey God of the Hindus, Lord Hanuman is greatly revered. His worship is very popular and there are innumerable temples dedicated to him. He is known as Pavan-Putra or Vayu-Putra because Pavan or Vayu (the Hindu deity of the wind) had played an important role in his birth. Some consider him as an incarnation of Lord Shiva or reflection of Lord Shiva, others consider him as a manifestation of Vayu. According to a Vedic belief, all the planets are under his control. In Hindu temples, the Hanuman idols are smeared with the sacred color vermilion to denote the estimation in which he is held. Because of his hard, rock-like body, Hanuman is also called Bajrang Bali. He is endowed with incredible strength and the ability to change shape at will and fly. He is also very powerful and intelligent, a perfect grammarian, great scholar and a master in all the sciences. Lord Hanuman is also one of the most important personalities in the Hindu epic Ramayana. He was the devoted ally of Lord Rama and the leader of the strong army of monkeys fighting against the demon king Ravana who had abducted Lord Rama’s wife, Sita and carried her away to his kingdom in Lanka.
There is a fabled lost city “Ciudad Blanca” or the “White City” in Honduras, dedicated to the Monkey God, but so far its location is unknown. It is mentioned in Pre-Columbian Toltec and Maya texts as “The ancient place where the aurora originates.”
In 1939, Theodore Morde, an American explorer claimed to have found the ruins of the “Ciudad Blanca”, where he saw the remains of a temple dedicated to a Monkey God. During his five-month expedition in the Moskitia region, his journey led him through dense forests and deep waters in the vast uncharted land. He came across a place near a waterfall and rapids with pure white sand along its course. Since the place was totally covered with white sand, he believed it to be the “White City”. The ruins were walled and covered a large area with remains of enormous buildings.
Morde named the site as ” The Lost City of the Monkey God.” This name reportedly came from a temple pyramid in the center of the site. From the ground to its summit there was a wide staircase with balustrades. Two large stone columns stood on either side. The right one carried an image of a crocodile while the one on the left side was that of an insect – a spider or an ant. On top of the pyramid shaped building there was an enormous carved statue of the Monkey God with an altar for sacrifices beneath it.
An interesting detail is the crocodile image at the pyramid. In the Ramayana, the powerful demon king, Ravana after having conquered humans, celestials and other demons everywhere, conquered the Patala (netherworld). He crowned his brother Ahiravana the king of Patala. Ahiravan, a powerful rakshasa (demon) black-magician and practitioner of the dark arts secretly carried away Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana and brought them to his kingdom. He planned to sacrifice the lives of the two divine brothers at the altar of his chosen deity with due ceremony. But Hanuman saved them by killing Ahiravan and destroying his army. Before rescuing the divine brothers he had to tackle a creature who was guarding the gates of the kingdom – a crocodile!
Morde had to keep the location a secret to keep looters away. But six years later he published his book, The City of the Monkey God which described his discovery of the ruins. Morde asserted that the Monkey God which he had seen at the site was Lord Hanuman, the Monkey God of India – the only Monkey God known in the world. A serious explorer with many discoveries to his credit, Morde promised he would return to study the ruins. However, when Morde went to London to get financial backing for his expedition, he was run over and killed by an automobile while walking toward the well known institution that was going to sponsor his expedition. It was speculated that rival explorers were involved. Some claimed it was a curse that protected the lost city. The subsequent expeditions of the institution in search of the city were all unsuccessful. Nobody knew the Native Indian guides of Morde and to find the exact location of the ruins in one of the most impenetrable places on earth was almost impossible.
For now the city remains lost. Perhaps in the near future it may be re-discovered. But it is known to be somewhere in the vast, densely-forested and impenetrable region of Moskitia in north-eastern Honduras.
The Pech Indians claim that their ancestors lived in the White City some 500 years ago. It is believed that they came from South America. The Pech talked about a glorious past in that city which had gigantic columns of white stone on which various carvings were made. The White City was built by the gods but their ancestors had to leave because according to a legend, a native Tawahka tribesman who came to live there was thrown out. While leaving, he cursed them. Soon after, the city was ravaged by diseases. The Pech had to leave the city to settle downstream the river in a place called “Sakorska Uya” meaning “the huge written stone”.
The Pech claimed that the inhabitants of the White City were allied with the spirits of the great storms. The Monkey God was believed to be the lord of Thunderbolts. There is an interesting story on the creation of the Sun in which the Monkey God plays an important role. The Sun and the Moon were at first stuck together. It was only when the god of wind blew the Sun away that they were separated. The image of the god of wind was reportedly found near the site at the White City. Surprisingly, even Lord Hanuman was known as the son of the god of wind and according to a legend, when he was an infant, he had intimidated the Sun.
When Morde found the site, he believed it was built by people who originated from Cholula, near Mexico City. He took back thousands of pieces of artifacts from them which are now the property of the Museum of the American Indian in the United States.
COPYRIGHT © SWARUPA N. OVALEKAR 2010
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