After 32km/20mi along the turn-off from MEX 190 to the Montebello Lagoons a 2km/1.3mi-long unmade road across fields leads left to Chinkultic. This ruined site on the rocky escarpment of a forest-covered mountain (1600 m (5251 ft)) is surrounded by a charming landscape of lakes and pastures. It is remarkable that a cenote also exists here far from the Yucatan karst area.Chinkultic (Maya: "cave of steps") was inhabited from about the beginning of the Christian era until the 13th c. Its heyday occurred during the Maya Classic period (ad 300-900). The first to visit this Maya site was the German archaeologist Eduard Seler in 1895. It was explored by the Dane Frans Blom and the American Oliver La Farge around 1925; during the 1960s Stephan F. de Borhegyl and Gareth W. Lowe led the excavations. Recently many exposed sites have become overgrown again. More than 200 mounds in this area, varying in size, still hold Maya constructions. Of the six main groups only a few remain visible. A museum associated with the site can be visited.
Opening hours: 10am-6pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $10.00
A large Juego de Pelota (ball court) extends into Group C on the west side. It measures 54 m (177 ft) 3 25 m (82 ft). On its west side are three sculpted stelae; a total of nineteen stelae with relief carvings of figures and glyphs have so far been found at Chinkultic.
Not to be missed is Group A, in the north-west, with the exposed Temple 1 or El Mirador at the top of an approximately 40 m (131 ft) tall pyramid. It stands on a terrace from which rise four platforms. The wide steps leading to the pyramid are now once more overgrown with scrub.
The picturesque turquoise blue cenote Agua Azul lies about 50 m (164 ft) below the temple. As it was assumed that, as in the case of the cenote of Chichen Itzá, human sacrifices and gifts had been thrown in here, archaeologists dived for such objects. The murky layer of silt lying immediately below the surface of the water rendered these attempts useless. The cenote was then drained into neighbouring Lake Chanujabab and excavation work uncovered various ceramics.In addition to interesting stelae and elaborate incense burners, a stone disc, with a diameter of 55 cm (22 in.), weighing 78 kg (172 lb) and dated ad 590, was found nearby. This valuable object, used as a marker stone for the game of pelota, shows a pelota player with an elaborate feather headdress and ritual games equipment surrounded by a band of glyphs. The stone is now in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.