Egypt, the land of mystery!
Egypt had always been on my travel bucket list. The Arabian towns, the cryptical pyramids, the spooky stories of mummies and their curses, mystical temples, the deserts, and the Nile…the list goes on! I feel that these have created a time capsule that allows us to understand the life of Pharaohs and the lives of those who lived during their reign. Egypt, the cradle of civilization was calling me!
I visited Egypt in 2018 with my parents. It was a dream come true for me! I had done thorough research as to what places we need to visit in Egypt. I was pretty excited about this trip! We reached Egypt on 9th April 2018. We landed in Cairo, the capital of Egypt. After fulfilling the immigration formalities, we took another flight to reach Luxor. From Luxor, we reached Aswan by road.
Aswan, a city on the Nile River, has been southern Egypt’s strategic and commercial gateway for ages as it was the main trading route between Egypt and the southern lands. It contains significant archaeological sites like the Philae temple complex, near the landmark Aswan Dam.
The ancient city was also famous for its granite quarries. Thousands of Egyptian statues, obelisks, shrines, and even pyramids are constructed out of the granite mined in Aswan.
In Aswan, the Nile is at its most beautiful state! Flowing through the desert and then finding its path through the palm groves! We set sail to Philae Island in a taxi boat.
The Ancient Egyptians built a magnificent temple on this island for the Goddess Isis. The temple has beautiful scenes depicting the birth of the God Horus by his mother Isis. It was mesmerizing!
I could not get over these huge structures and the story behind these structures! I was completely taken back in time to the ancient Egyptian world! I started picturing every detail in my mind.
After this, our next destination was Abu Simbel! We started early in the morning at 5 am. The journey was a long one…under the guidance of the Egyptian army. Abu Simbel is located in Aswan, bordering South Sudan and so it is not advisable to travel alone as there is a threat from terrorists from South Sudan.
Abu Simbel is an ancient temple complex, originally cut into a solid rock cliff, in southern Egypt.
The Great Temple stands 98 feet (30 meters) high with four seated bigger than life statutes, at the entrance!
King Ramesses II, built this temple complex. The extensive artwork throughout the interior of the Great Temple reveals that this celebrates Ramesses’ victory in the war. There is also a temple for Queen Nefertari, Ramesses’ favorite wife. With this, we ended our trip at Aswan and our next destination was Luxor. Luxor is a city on the east bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt. It is on the site of ancient Egypt, the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power, during the 16th–11th centuries B.C
Aswan to Luxor was a cruise trip on the river Nile. It was very special as it was my first time on a river cruise!
We reached Luxor after a day’s journey on the cruise. First, we went to the Karnak temple. It is the largest temple complex in the world! It is also known as “The temple of Amun, the god of Egypt.”
Karnak was not just the temple for gods but also the temple for rulers!
When we reached Karnak, the avenue of ram-headed sphinxes, amazed me! They are the protectors of the temple. Then comes the great court where we see a big statue of Ramesses II.
Next was the great hall that consisted of huge pillars…around 100 pillars! The whole scene was so magical and the stories told by the guide transported me to the Egyptian era of the 25th dynasty!
Later in the evening, there was a laser show in the temple complex. This made the whole experience of visiting the Karnak temple even more magical. I felt I was witnessing the action live! It was a day very well spent!
The next day we went to the West Bank of Luxor to visit the Valley of the Kings. The valley contains 63 tombs. It was the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, as well as a number of privileged nobles. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology giving clues to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period.
These give an idea of the luxury and power of the pharaohs!
It was a chilling experience to see the mummies! I visited the tomb of the magnificent king Tut aka Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Tutankhamen became pharaoh when he was only 9 years old!
King Tut made his mark in history in record time. He was just 18 when he died. He was a rich pharaoh and Tutankhamen’s tomb contained so many items of gold and precious items that cataloging them all took seventeen years! Pharaoh Tutankhamen brought many of his possessions with him so that they could accompany him in the afterlife! Yes, Egyptians believed that life existed afterlife! The mummy preserved the body of a dead so that they come back and use them in their afterlife. It was believed that “Anubis” was the god of mummification. He had a human body and the head of a jackal. His job was to prepare the bodies of the dead (mummies). The Egyptians believed that if the pharaoh’s body could be mummified, then the pharaoh would live forever even after death! The tombs were designed to protect the buried Pharaoh’s body and his belongings. In the Old and Middle Kingdoms, Egyptian kings were buried in pyramids. About 50 royal pyramids have survived, one such pyramid that I have visited during my trip to Egypt is the pyramid of Giza. This was built as a tomb for the pharaoh Khufu.
Yes, the pyramid of Giza, one of the old seven wonders of the world! It was built in 2500 BC.The mystery about this building is its design and construction. Even today, archeologists wonder how such a massive building of limestone has survived for thousands of years, without any damage even during massive earthquake that stuck Cairo in 1303AD!
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Pyramid complex bordering Giza, Cairo, Egypt. It is the oldest of the seven ancient wonders of the world!
It is made of limestone and it is in the shape of a true pyramid.it is huge. The base itself around 250 m wide! It is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is one of the tallest manmade structures in the world. For 3800 years, no other building was taller than this until Lincoln cathedral, which was built in 1311AD.
Next comes the great Sphinx! Another remarkable piece of sculpture that is etched in my memory. A sphinx is a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. It is a prominent mythological figure in Egyptian stories. The sphinx was a spiritual guardian. This Sphinx is huge. It is 240 feet long and is made of a single rock boulder!
I soaked in the beauty of this larger than life-size statue .the whole experience of seeing a pyramid and its guard was so ethereal!
I let it soak into my mind completely and then we moved on to visit a local restaurant in Cairo .it was already lunchtime and I wanted to taste some local food. For me, a trip is incomplete without enjoying local culture and cuisine. We went to this world-famous restaurant, Abu Tarek in Cairo. I tasted the Egyptian national dish Koshary. It was delicious! It was like a pasta dish with an Egyptian touch.
Our next stop was at the cultural show to see ‘Tanoura’.Tanoura means skirt in English, Tanoura dance is a kind of folkloric dance that is very common in Egypt usually performed by Sufi men for the Sufi music, who spin continuously. It was my first time to see such a dance form and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This trip has had many first time adventures!
Any trip is incomplete without shopping.
Yes, shopping! I went to Al-Khalili Market, an old large souk to shop for local spices and classic Egyptian art pieces like the papyrus scroll!
Egypt is the gift of the Nile. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the wonders of the past and present. Great Pyramids, statues of Abu Simbel suddenly crash into your sight, just like what it appears on TV, in movies, magazines, and guidebooks. It feels so familiar yet so strange! I feel so privileged to sit at the foot of the Great Pyramid, having a bird’s eye view of the great pyramid, spend time walking around and appreciating them from different angles.
“Once you drink from the Nile, you are destined to return.” This old Egyptian proverb holds true for me. I will surely visit Egypt again, with my children, to show them the history of the greatest civilization of the world!
-P SHRAAVYA HANDE,
GRADE 8A, Ekya School, JP Nagar
A few pictures from my travel diary!