It was a 14 hours long train journey from Cairo to Aswan. In the morning, after reaching Aswan, we went for Aswan high dam and Philae Temple. The boat ride to the temple was the high point as we were completely exhausted and the Blue water of Nile was like a painting on a beautiful canvas.
The temple of Isis, built in second century, Philae temple was initially located in Philae Island which is underneath Lake Nasser presently. When the high dam was made, the whole area was flooded, and many temple and monuments were submerged beneath the water, including Philae Temple. It took 8 years to recover the parts of the temple and reassemble it.
We reached hotel and had to take some rest. However, next day, we're scheduled to visit Abu Simbel and for that we had to check out from the hotel at 3'o clock in the morning. A hectic and exciting day was ahead of us.
I was most excited about Abu Simbel, while planning for the trip. That thrill of just being there, was exciting enough for me, and when the day arrive, even though we only had couple of hours sleep at night, I was high on adrenaline.
So, the guides would pick you up from certain pickup points at 3'o clock in the morning. Once you reach a checkpoint, all the cars wait there, and at 5'0 clock in the morning, the journey will begin from there, along with military convoys. The area is extremely close to Sudan border, and that is why all the security.
The journey is beautiful. The terrain is amazing. Barren and gorgeous desert of Sahara!
Abu Simbel has two temples, one of King Ramesis II and the other of his favorite wife Neferteri. Ramesis II built this temple after his victory over Hitties in the battle of Kadesh. Inside the large temple, various scenes from the battle is drawn in the walls. The temples were flooded and later it was removed from under the water the situated on a high ground. Sun rays enter directly to the inner chamber of the temple on 22nd February (the day of Ramesis II's coronation) and on 22nd October (his birthday).
If you are planning to visit Egypt, you must include Abu Simbel in your itinerary. It is one of the most breathtaking places there.
From there, our next destination was Luxor. It was a 5-hour long train journey. Luxor is beautiful. It wasn't as peaceful as Aswan, but definitely much less chaotic than Cairo. The hustle bustle of Luxor along with the old world cabs and cars, create a nice ambiance for the travelers.
Valley of Tombs:
You can enter 3 tombs with 1 ticket. After that you need to pay per tomb, if you want to visit the special tombs.
The first tomb we chose was of Ramesis IV. It was colorful and we were amazed! Then 2 more tombs we visited and yes, we so wish, we could visit all 63 tombs there.
Our next destination was Hatshepshut (Haa- Chep- Shoot) temple. Hatshepshut was an intriguing character of that time. She was the daughter of Tutmojese II and after his death, Hatshepshut sent her half brother Tutmojese III away, and imprisoned him. Hatshepshut opted for false beard and declared herself the "King" (not queen). She had also claimed to be the daughter of Sun god 'Amun-Ra'.
Before going back to hotel, we stopped to see the Colossi of Memnon. Twin statues of Amenhotep III are there, in a seated position and the stones were carried from Cairo (675km) to Luxor for that.
Next day, we visited Luxor and Karnak Temple. A lot of it is ruins, but whatever is still there is beyond amazing. Pure architectural brilliance, and I cannot stop thinking about how grand it used to be back in those times. Extravagant and overwhelming.
Karnak Temple was started during the Middle Kingdom and most of it was built in the New Kingdom. Amun-Ra was the god, and the innermost chamber belongs to him. The ceiling of that chamber still has some colors (the night sky pattern) intact. The obelisk of Tuthmojese III and Hatshepshut are there. Hatshepshut's obelisk was covered by the order of Tuthmojese III for a long time and because of the the inscription of it has remained almost intact. The outermost gate was made by Alexander and it has no inscription on it. The rest of the parts were built by various kings including Hatshepshut, Tuthmojese III and Ramesses II.
Luxor Temple was constructed to worship God Amun Ra, is wife goddess Mut and their son Khonsu. Ramesses II, Tutankhamun and Amenhotep III had also built various parts of the temple. During the Roman era a church was constructed in a part of the main hall and the wall paintings of that time is pretty much vivid even now. This is may be the only temple/religious place I have seen where there's a mosque and a coptic area present inside.
Luxor has been an amazing experience to us. If we ever visit Egypt again, this place will get a lot of time from us, for sure.
The trip was almost in its last leg, and our next pit stop was going to be in Cairo.
To be contd.....