Grottoes of Balancanche (Grutas de Balancanché) are the most famous Maya cave sites, near Chichen Itza, in Mexico.

Balankanche caves are one of the Mayan world’s most impressive Maya Ceremonial caves and underground waterways. Here ancient Maya World Initiation and Ceremonial Rites were celebrated by the Mayan Senior Wiseman or Aj Men J-Men. Balankanche is easy to explore and visitors can see Mayan offerings vessels still in place within the main Mayan cave dome and ceremonial site.

Other names of the cave include, Balancanche, Balaamcanche, Balaancanche, Balankanche and Balancanchyn.
The name translates to “the cave of the sacred jaguar throne”. According to Bruce Rogers, the name of the cave is related to the Mayan leaders, not the animal jaguar.

For the past 22 years, the cave has been used as a tourist attraction.


Balancanché was known to the Mayans as early as the pre-classical period, 3,000 years ago. The cave was a source of water and because of this, was the object of worship to the god of rain, Chaac.

Discovery and study of caves

For the first time in modern times, Balancanché was visited by Edward Thompson and Alfred Tozzer in 1905.

In different periods, the cave was studied by: A. Pearse and his team of biologists (1932 and 1936), E. Wyllys Andrews IV (1930), Edwin Shook and RE Smith of the Carnegie Institution (1954).

In 1954, José Humberto Gómez found a walled-off passage in one of the branches of the cave. Behind it was a Maya sanctuary consisting of the “Altar of the Jaguar” and the “Altar of Pristine Waters.”
The cave ended at a small lake. The sanctuary has been studied and described by Ramon Pavon Abreu. It turned out that the sanctuary was built in honor of the god Tlaloc, and walled in about 842 AD during the Classic Maya collapse.

How to get there

From Valladolid by bus, “colectivo” or local agency tour.

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