THE MYSTERY OF THE
TUNNELS OF SOUTH AMERICA
Atlantis Rising Forum
Recently, Erick von Daniken reported that he'd had been in a
network of tunnels that run for thousands of miles beneath the South
American continent. Von Daniken said in the
Gold of the Gods that he had been
in the tunnels, accompanied by their discoverer, Juan Moricz,
a Hungarian immigrant who is now a citizen of Argentina. Entrance to
the subterranean labyrinth is somewhere in the province of Morona-Santiago,
Ecuador. According to von Daniken, he saw immense rooms filled with
metallic plaques. They constitute a possible record of the ancient
world, according to the Swiss writer.
The first knowledge about these immense underground tunnels came
when the Conquistadores invaded ancient South America. The
ex-swineherd, Don Francisco Pizarro, kidnapped the emperor of
the Incas and held him for ransom. Don Francisco drew a red line
around the prisoner's room, nine feet above the floor of the
seventeen by twenty-foot room. The Inca stated he would fill the
room with gold in return for his freedom. From his cell in Cajamarca,
emperor Atahualapa ordered his subjects to gather up gold for his
Before the emperor could be freed, he was killed by Pizarro's
soldiers. Learning of the assassination, the Incas hid their gold.
Thousands of llamas loaded with treasure were diverted away from
Cajamarca. It is believed by some treasure hunters that the llama
loads of gold were hidden in these ancient tunnels. Indian legends
say the gold was secreted "in such a place that even we do not know
Among the artifacts that vanished were the mummified bodies of
thirteen Inca emperors. They had sat on golden chairs in the Temple
of the Sun at Cuzco, the chairs resting on a huge slab of gold.
Realizing the Spaniards were interested only in riches, the Indians
hastened to hide their sacred objects. Polo de Ondegardo,
another of the king's Conquistadores, stumbled across three mummies
of the ancient kings' twenty-six years later. The mummies were
stripped of their jewelry; the bodies were broken into pieces.
The remainder of the mummies have not been found. They are believed
to have been hidden in the tunnels beneath Cuzco and the fortress of
Sacsahuaman. The old chroniclers say the tunnels were connected with
the Coricancha, a name given to the sacred area of old Cuzco. In
addition to the Temple of the Sun, this area contained temples
dedicated to the moon, lightening, thunder, Venus, the rainbow and
the Pleiades. The area was considered to be sacred to the Incas
because of the riches in this "enclosure of gold."
Around the Temple of the Sun was a
yard-wide strip of gold embedded into the stone. The temple
contained an immense sun disc cast from pure gold. The golden disc
was attached to the altar wall of the temple in such a way that the
morning sun reflected against the great orb. On each side of the
large disc were two smaller plates. Finally, another large sun disc
was situated in the temple so that it reflected back the rays of the
The mummified remains of Inca rulers were placed around the temple
decorated with golden jewelry and precious stones. Near the mummies
were large gold plates engraved with a picture of the Inca as they
appeared during life. These were the treasures that eluded the
The Garden of the Sun was another fantastic hoard that has been
lost. Sarmiento (1532-1589) reported this subterranean garden
was located near the Temple of the Sun.
"They had a garden in which
the lumps of earth were pieces of fine gold," he reported. "These
were cleverly sown with maize - the stalks, leaves and ears of which
were all pure gold. They were so well planted that nothing would
disturb them. Besides all this, they had more than twenty sheep with
their young. The shepherds who guarded the sheep were armed with
slings and staves made of gold and silver. Pots, vases and every
kind of vessel were cast from fine gold."
The important buildings in the Coricancha were connected by
underground tunnels with the fortress of Sacsahuaman. Entrances to
these tunnels started at the Chincana, "the place where one gets
lost." As we mention in another chapter of this book, all of the
entrances have been sealed. Too many adventurous treasure hunters
were going in to the caverns and disappearing.
After they conquered Peru, the Spaniards destroyed the temples in
Cuzco and the church of Santo Domingo was erected on the site. There
is an old legend in Cuzco that a treasure hunter slipped into the
tunnels. In his search for riches, the man became lost and wandered
through the maze of tunnels for several days. One morning, about a
week after the adventurer had vanished, a priest was conducting mass
in the church of Santo Domingo.
The priest and his congregation were suddenly astonished to hear
sharp rapping on the stone floor of the church. Several worshippers
crossed themselves and murmured about the devil's demons. The priest
quieted his congregation and directed that a large stone slab be
removed form the ancient floor. The group was astonished to see the
treasure hunter come up out of the tunnels carrying a gold bar in
Dr. A.M. Renwick, dean of the Anglo-Peruvian College in Lima,
tells of another temple with immense subterranean passages. Writing
in Wanderings in the Peruvian Andes, Dr Renwick told his
readers of visiting the ancient temple of Chavin in the isolated
regions of the Andean mountains. The temple covers some 30,000
square yards and is fortified. The ruins are situated across a
valley from a stone fortress. Dr. Renwick believed underground
tunnels connected these two structures.
The temple of Chavin is pyramidal in shape, consisting of four
stories. The uppermost parts of the structure have been destroyed.
Renwick reported that after considerable effort, his expedition
located the entrance to the ancient tunnels. While the entrance was
quite narrow, the tunnels themselves were large and "commodious."
"These subterranean corridors are in
almost perfect condition," Dr. Renwick explained.
"The masonry is for the most part,
as solid as if built only a few years ago, and the passages are
so extensive that we were able to spend the whole day exploring
the recesses of this building which must have been reared three
thousand years ago. No such walls are built in that region
today. The whole is liberally supplied with air. In a place
where four corridors meet stands the famous idol of Chavin, a
granite obelisk thirteen and a half feet in height with a
diameter of over two feet at its widest. It represents a fanged
monster, partly jaguar and partly human. Here for at least three
thousand years must have stood this idol.
The figure is most carefully engraved in high relief and is
adorned with serpents and other symbolic figures."
Dr. Renwick said that other commitments
prevented a complete investigation of these subterranean passages.
He felt a survey of the tunnels would require at least two years.
Rumors of these massive tunnels were so persistent during the 1850's
that a viceroy of Peru decided to find the entrance. An expedition
was outfitted and sent to find an entrance into the subterranean
passages. They were guided by a roughly sketched Inca map that had
been obtained from an unknown source by a Jesuit missionary. The map
led the gold hunters into the rugged terrain of the Huatanay region
This was the area where the last of the
Incas resisted the Spanish invaders for almost a hundred years. The
Spaniards were under fire by savage Indians. They lost their
supplies during a battle in which huge boulders were sent crashing
down from high mountains by the outraged Indians. Disgusted with the
savagery of the country and the hostility of the Indians, the group
gave up their quest and returned to Lima.
Several of the early priests in South America reported hearing
deathbed confessions from converted Inca Christians. Father Pedro
del Sancho in a Relacion told of a dying Quichua Indian
who claimed to have been a witness to the ceremonial closing of the
Father del Sancho wrote:
"...My informant was a subject of
the Inca emperor. He was held in high esteem by those in power
at Cuzco. He had been a chieftain of his tribe and made a yearly
pilgrimage to Cuzco to worship his idolistic gods. It was a
custom of the Incas to conquer a tribe or nation and take their
idols to Cuzco. Those who wished to worship their ancient idols
were forced to travel to the Inca capital. They brought gifts to
their heathen idols. They were also expected to pay homage to
the Inca emperor during these journeys".
"As he lay dying, the man told me that he was revealing that
which no other white man had ever been told. When it became
apparent that the empire was falling to the "white devils" from
across the sea, the high priest of the Temple of the Sun called
a meeting. The men who came together were the highest priests of
the land. They met with the sorcerers and magicians from Cuzco
and other outlying towns. Also in attendance were other noble
consorts from the court of Atahualpa, the last emperor.
"It had reached the ears of these men that my countrymen were
interested in gold and silver. Their hatred for the emissaries
of his majesty, the king, was beyond description. They agreed at
this meeting to spirit away as much of their riches as could be
handled. These treasures were placed in ancient tunnels that
were in the land when the Incas arrived.
"Also placed in these subterranean repositories were artifacts
and statues deemed sacred to the Incas. When the hoard had been
placed in the tunnels, there was a ceremony conducted by the
high priest. Following these rites, the entrance to the tunnel
was sealed. The opening was concealed in such a manner that one
could walk within a few feet and never be aware of the entrance.
"My informant said that the entrance lay in his land, the
territory which he ruled. It was under his direction and with
his subjects that the openings were sealed. All who were in
attendance were sworn to silence under the penalty of death.
Although I requested more information on the exact location of
the entrance, my informant refused to divulge more than what has
been written down here."
The Russian-born mystic and occultist,
Madame Helene H.P. Blavatsky, was traveling in Peru in 1848
when she heard rumors of these ancient tunnels. The founder of
Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky was always interested in unusual events.
After leaving Lima, where she heard about the tunnels, Madame
Blavatsky went on to Arica on the frontier between Chile and Peru.
She questioned everyone she met about the tunnels.
Her report reads:
"We reached Arica, near sunset, and
at a certain point on the lonely coast we were struck by the
appearance of an enormous rock, nearly perpendicular, which
stood in mournful solitude on that shore, and apart from the
cordillera of the Andes. As the last rays of the sun strike the
face of the rock, one can make out, with an ordinary opera
glass, curious hieroglyphics inscribed on the volcanic surface.
"When Cuzco was the capital of old Peru, it contained the Temple
of the Sun, famed far and near for its magnificence. It was
roofed with thick plates of gold and its walls were covered with
the same precious metal. The eaves troughs, carrying off the
rainwater, were also made of pure gold. In the west wall, the
architects had contrived an aperture, in such a way that, when
the sunbeams reached it, it caught and focused them inside the
temple's nave and sanctuary. Stretching inside the temple like a
golden chain from one sparkling point to another, the rays
encircled the walls, illuminating the grim idols, and disclosing
certain mystic signs that were at other times invisible."
By interpreting these mystic signs,
according to Madame Blavatsky, the location of the tunnels, their
entrance and how they might be entered could be discerned. She
reported these signs were invisible except on certain days when the
sun's rays were focused directly on the inscriptions.
Madame Blavatsky reported the tunnels started at Cuzco and
ran underground to Lima, a distance of around 380 miles by air. At
Lima the tunnels turn southward into what is now modern Bolivia.
This is a distance of some thousand miles! She also reported that
within the tunnels is a point where a royal tomb has been
constructed. The ancient tomb has been protected by a couple of
enormous slabs of stone that form a door. The huge stone door is
constructed in such a way that no cracks or joints can be seen. Only
by reading certain signs can the secret location of the royal tomb
Exactly where she obtained her information was not mentioned by
Madame Blavatsky. However, she mentioned a
secret society of
custodians who protect the tunnels. This secret society is believed
by many investigators to exist today, carefully guarding the
treasures of the ancients. However entrance could be obtained to the
subterranean labyrinth provided the seeker can interpret symbols
carved on rocks and visible only when the sun hits the stone at a
Even if an adventurous person were to find the entrance, the tunnels
would be extremely dangerous to explore. If the Inca's tomb is
flanked by huge stone doors that pivot, there must be a method
gaining entrance. The doors may be operated by a hidden mechanism.
They might open when a certain word is spoken, reminiscent of the
"open sesame" of the Arabian nights.
We can assume that the ancient builders of the tunnels anticipated
possible grave robbers. They probably created a deadly trap for
unwary ghouls. Madame Blavatsky was told during her South American
trip that a thousand soldiers couldn't penetrate into the
Her informant said:
"... A thousand soldiers, were they
in the tunnel, would be forevermore one with the dead, did they
attempt to force their way into the treasure tomb of the dead
Inca. There is no other access to the Arica chamber, but through
the hidden door in the mountains near the Rio Payquina. Along
the entire length of the main corridor, from Bolivia to Lima and
royal Cuzco, are smaller hiding places filled with treasures of
gold and gems and jewels, that are the accumulation of many
generations of Incas. The aggregate value of the treasures is
beyond the power of man to estimate."
Nearly a hundred years ago, Madame
Blavatsky claimed to have an accurate map of the tunnels.
"We had in our possession an
accurate map of the tunnels, the sepulcher, the great treasure
chamber and the hidden, pivoted rock doors," she stated.
"It was given to us by an old
Peruvian; but if we had ever thought of profiting from the
secret it would have required the co-operation of the Peruvian
and Bolivian governments on an extensive scale. To say nothing
of physical obstacles, no one individual or small party could
undertake such an exploration without encountering an army of
brigands and smugglers with which the coast is infested, and
which, in fact, includes nearly the entire population. The mere
task of purifying the mephitic air of the tunnel not entered for
centuries would also be a serious one. There the treasure lies,
and tradition says it will lie until the last vestige of the
Spanish rule disappears from the whole of North and South
Christopher Columbus landed on the island of
Martinique, a story of similar tunnels was brought to his attention.
The Carib Indians told the Spanish about the Amazon women who
lived without men. Columbus and his crew were informed that these
women would hide in ancient subterranean tunnels if they were
bothered by men. If their persistent suitors followed them into the
tunnels, the Amazons cooled their passions with a flurry of arrows
from their strong bows.
The concept of vast underground passages is enough to boggle the
mind. That such tunnels could be constructed indicates a science in
pre-Inca or Inca days. It means there was a technology capable of
building a labyrinth beneath the earth.
And for what purpose? It is one thing to construct an underground
shelter in the event of a catastrophe. Such a cavern, man-made or
naturally formed, would provide safe refuge against an impending
disaster. To construct tunnels that run for a hundred or a thousand
miles beneath the South American continent is beyond the boundaries
of present knowledge.
But many people persist in hunting for the caverns. I have
corresponded with and met several people who search for the tunnel
entrance. Some are wild-eyed visionaries with a fanatical gleam in
their eyes. A few are mentally disturbed individuals. Others are
quick-buck opportunists out to fleece anyone who will put up funds
for the funds for an expedition.
A sampling of the correspondence includes this letter from a
Brazilian physician who spends his vacation time hunting for the
"... English Explorer, Colonel
Fawcett, disappeared in the jungles several years ago. He
was searching for a tunnel entrance into the subterranean world
in the Rancador mountains when he vanished. Reports from that
part of Brazil indicate that Fawcett and his son, Jack and their
companion were living in a cavern city beneath the mountains.
They were well treated, according to these reports, but they
were not allowed to return to the surface because they might
reveal the location of the entrance.
"The entrance to the cavern city is carefully guarded by the
Murcego Indians. They are a ferocious, dark-skinned tribe with a
highly developed sense of smell. You must obtain their approval
before you enter the caverns. However, should they decide you
are not worthy to share the secret, you will not be allowed to
return to civilization.
"There is a legend in Brazil that the subterranean cities were
constructed by the survivors of Atlantis. We don't know if the
present inhabitants are the descendants of the Atlanteans, or
whether they died and another race wandered into the tunnels and
settled in the city."
Francisco Pizarro found tunnel
entrances that had been closed with gigantic slabs of stone during
the campaign against the Incas. Pizarro located these entrances at a
height of 22,000 feet on Huascaran, the sacred mountain of the
Incas. History doesn't tell if he succeeded in entering the cavern
or what he found there.
These caves were forgotten until 1971 when a group of South American
spelunkers organized an expedition to explore the caverns. They
arrived at the Peruvian village of Otuzco.
The group was equipped
with winches, miners lamps, ropes, cables, and battery-powered
flashlights. Two hundred feet below the surface, the group found
their progress blocked by several huge slabs of stone. It took the
efforts of four men to push these doors open, pivoting the slabs on
stone balls that acted as guides.
A report on what they discovered indicates history may need to be
revised. A Peruvian periodical said:
"The tunnels found behind the stone
slab doors would test the ingenuity of today's largest and best
equipped contractors. These tunnels lead toward the seacoast
angling away at a slope of 14 degrees. The floor of the tunnel
is made from stone slabs. These stones have been mortised and
grooved to fit together. They have been marked in such a manner
that they are slip-proof.
"The tunnels extend for an estimated sixty miles and end some
eighty feet below sea level where they are flooded with
seawater. It is believed that the tunnel may have run beyond the
coast, under the ocean, and onto an island off the coast. To
date, the speleologists have not ventured beyond the spot where
the tunnels are flooded."
"Scholars point out that the skills needed to construct these
tunnels was beyond the knowledge of the natives of ancient Peru.
Exactly who built the tunnel and why, remains a mystery."
Perhaps the mystery of the tunnels will
be solved someday in the future. Until then, we might consider that
these structures were probably in South America prior to the reign
of the Incas. Some scholars have suggested that the tunnels were
built by the Atlaneans. Others have speculated that an unknown race
that existed before the flood constructed the tunnels.
debate the possibility that the tunnels were made by the unknown
Tiahuanaco and other megalithic
stone-works. It is rumored, but not proven, that subterranean
tunnels can be found under the ruins of Tiahuanaco, that the
passages spread out from those ruins to other points on the
Peter Cristobal de Molina, a Spanish chronicler in the 15th century,
tried to penetrate the mystery of the Inca tunnels. In Ritos y
Fabulas de los Incas, Molina reported a South American legend
about the creator of mankind leaving the surface and going into an
underground paradise. The father of humanity did this after his work
This secret retreat for the "God" or
"gods" of old South America was the origin of many culture bearers
and teachers who pop up periodically throughout history.
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