The pyramid of Kukulcan, otherwise known as ‘El Castillo’, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It is one of the greatest surviving monuments of the Mayan civilization. The spring equinox at Chichen Itza is the setting for one of the most spectacular sights you will ever see, the descent of the Feathered Serpent. The Spring equinox usually falls on the 20th or 21st of March although the dates may vary slightly from year to year. This year it will be 21st March.
If you are lucky enough to see this incredible example of the Mayan people’s ingenuity and architectural genius you will be truly amazed. At the precise time of the spring equinox, the sun casts its rays on the NE stairway of the Kukulcan ‘El Castillo’ pyramid, creating a play of shadow and light which looks like a serpent slithering down the pyramid as the sun moves through the sky. The image is created by a solar projection consisting of seven triangles of light, inverted, as a result of the shadow of the nine platforms of the pyramid, at sunset. You can see this vision for a few days – from around March 19th to the 23rd, but on the actual date of the equinox the effect is most dramatic. This is an archaeo-astronomical phenomenon, where Earth is illuminated by the sun the same way in the northern hemisphere and in the south. The first shadows of the pyramid begins to draw isosceles triangles that make up the body of the feathered serpent that seem to move slowly downward until the head of the snake reaches bottom of the balustrade. When the last triangle reaches the base of the balustrade, all spectators stand up and raise their hands to absorb the positive energy that emanates from this phenomenon. All this process takes approximately 45 minutes.
It tends to get very busy with thousands of people flocking to Chichen Itza to experience this phenomenon. Please take note there are very few hotels near to the ruins, but there are many tours available from Cancun which will bring you back after the event. If you happen to miss this date you will get another chance during the autumn equinox on September 21 when the feathered serpent is again seen descending the great pyramid.