The Journey Begins at Abu Simbel

Having climbed through the Great Pyramid, stood by the Sun boat, and sat on a camel;  I have to say that the ‘real’ journey to Egypt has only just begun.  There is much more than just pyramids and sand.  The real journey to ancient Egypt begins when you take the magical and unforgettable cruise down the River Nile.  

One sees so many temples, all noteworthy and each second to none.  I, of course, will not be able to write about all of them for it will take up more than a month’s worth of blogs and have the unfortunate consequence of boring my readers.  I shall therefore write about the ones that captured my imagination the most.

This cruise down the River Nile is the part of the journey that I’ll never forget.  Before we get to actually board the Cruise, we are are taken on a flight down to Abu Simbel and later flown to Aswan.  Some tours don’t include Abu Simbel, but I think if you have the opportunity, you should definitely see it.  It’s what movies and dreams are made of.

Abu Simbel is a temple literally carved out of a solid cliff to honour Ramses II.   At first, as you are walking behind the structure everything seems just ordinary, that is until you start catching glimpses of the colossal statues of Ramses II looking out towards the river.  It’s undescribable.  Ramses II here is 33 meters (108ft) high and he undoubtedly has the effect of putting all those before him in awe. 

You feel like a grain of sand standing next to this awesome structure.  I suppose that is what you are supposed to feel like.  Here the King assumes a godlike status and is wearing the crowns of both upper and lower Egypt.  Here he has been immortalized next to his wife Nefertari, who has another smaller temple of her own next to his. Amazing what love can do.

I enter this temple and am greeted by an impressive hall lined with statues of Ramses as Osiris, the God of the Afterlife.  Towards the back of the temple in the Inner Sanctury you find Ramses sitting next to the Gold of Amun-Ra (the King of Gods),  Ptah (God of Regeneration and Underworld) and Ra-Harakhty or Horus (God of Protection, the Sky and War).  

Now, imagine this being built in 13th century BC.   Imagine how well they had to calculate the position of the temple so that on only two days a year on October 21 and February 21 (61 days before and 61 days after the Winter Solstice) light enters the temple and shines on the gods sitting in the inner sanctuary.

The sun shines into the Inner Sanctury and lights up three Gods.  One is left in darkness: the God of the Underworld, the God Ptah.   Its breathtaking.  All this calculation, all this done thousands of years ago.  Millions of lives before be have stood in awe in front of this great structure.

It’s no wonder that it is a UNESCO Heritage Site and even more fortunate that the world realized its significance and actually relocated this entire temple structure before it was submerged under Lake Nasser, formed by the building of the Aswan High Dam.  I thank you all those who helped in the relocation of this temple.  Without them, it would have been lost underwater and instead serve as an incredibly beautiful home for the fish.

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