In the mythology and religious belief system of the Incas, Inti was the god of the Sun, and one of the most important deities of the Inca pantheon. As a solar god, Inti is closely related to agriculture, since the sun as a celestial body provides the fields with the light and heat they need to grow crops. In this way, Inti was a god very venerated by the farmers of the Inca civilization. The thing was not there, since the Sapa Inca (king of the Inca Empire) claimed descent directly from Inti, a fact that further increased the prestige and status of this god.
It was believed that Inti was the son of Viracocha and his wife, Mama Cocha. The Incas considered Viracocha their supreme deity, being the creator of the universe, while they believed that Mama Cocha was the goddess of the sea. As creator of all things, Viracocha was the most important Inca god, and his son Inti was second in importance behind his father. In a certain version of an Inca legend, Viracocha had two daughters besides Inti: Pachamama and Mama Quilla. The first was (and still is) worshiped as the goddess of the earth, while the second was the goddess of the moon. Mama Quilla was considered by the Incas Inti's wife, as well as her sister.
As god of the sun, Inti exercised a powerful influence on the lives of the Incas. They believed that Inti controlled their agricultural activities, thus being vital to their existence. It is thanks to the heat and sunlight that the crops can grow and develop, which is why farmers often adored and prayed to this god
The kings of the Inca Empire also claimed to be direct descendants of Inti. The founder of the Inca Empire, Manco Cápac, was considered the son of Inti. According to a certain myth, it was Inti who gave the human being the gift of civilization through his own son, Manco Cápac. In this legend, Inti is described as a generous god who takes care of his people. Noting that the Incas were savage, anarchic and uncivilized, Inti felt unhappy, so he called his son Manco Capác and his daughter Mama Ocllo before his presence. Inti instructed them to come down to earth and teach the Incas how to live. According to the ancient traditions of the region, this is how the Inca civilization was born.
The importance of this god can also be seen in the fact that one of the most important Inca temples, the Coricancha Temple (a word meaning 'House of the Sun'), located in the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco, was dedicated to him. Historians believe that this temple was built during the reign of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, 9th king or Inca emperor, and was the place where the Villac Umu ('High Priest of the Sun' Inca) presided over the religious rites in honor of Inti.
Other notable temples dedicated to this god are Pisac (northeast of Cuzco), Ingapirca (located in what is now Ecuador) and the one found on the Isla del Sol, on Lake Titicaca. Coricancha was destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors, and most of its stones were used to build a church in its place.
There was also a special festival that the Incas celebrated in honor of Inti. It was known as Inti Raymi festival, and was celebrated on the occasion of the winter solstice, in the month of June. During this festival, which lasted several days, white llamas and other animals were sacrificed in honor of the sun god, also making other offerings such as food and even farmland.
The Inti Raymi festival coincided with the winter solstice (June 21). Before dawn, the emperor, his family and the people went in solemn procession to the main square of Cuzco where they waited in silence to the rising sun, whose appearance was received with joy. Everyone present knelt then and the Inca offered chicha to the sun in a silver container. Later they marched to the Coricancha, where the sacred fire was rekindled through the use of mirrors. The ceremony was accompanied by dances and sacrifices of grain, flowers and animals, which were burned in bonfires. From the hills that surrounded Cuzco innumerable columns of smoke ascended towards the sky carrying the offerings made to the Sun.