Destination: Aswan & Abu Simbel

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A 3 hour train trip from Luxor took us to Aswan, Egypt’s southernmost city, the gateway to Africa and the now-inundated land of Nubia.   With a great Nubian Museum, remains dating back to ancient times, beautiful gardens, a unique Nubian-influenced local culture and the Nile lined banks,  it is a fascinating and relaxing place to spend time.  South of Aswan, dimensions of the High Dam mark the beginning of Lake Nasser, the world?s largest man made lake.  The highlight of our visit to Aswan was undoubtedly the Temple of Ramses II, at Abu Simbel.


Abu Simbel  – The Great Temple of Ramses II:


The village of Abu Simbel lies 280 Km south of Aswan and about 40 Km north of the Sudanese border.  Guarded convoy of buses depart once a day from Aswan and on the day we visited,  a fleet of 70 big buses,  loaded with excited tourists and escorted by police convoys,  had an early start at an unearthly hour of 3 a.m.


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The break of dawn..on the way to Abu Simbel


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Not a pyramid this ?the road to Abu Simbel dotted with natural dark sandstone mounds all the way, probably small volcanic activity during ancient times.


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Amidst the stark sand ..a welcome host of bright bougainvilleas at the entrance to Abu Simbel


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The long path towards the Abu Simbel temples


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The never ending path towards the temples..Lake Nasser to the right.


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Behold?we are there! Jaws drop in wonder at the sight!


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The Great Temple of Ramses II, dedicated to the gods Ra-Harakhti, Amun and Ptah, is considered the grandest and the most beautiful in Egypt.Standing 100 feet tall, the temple was carved into an already-standing sandstone mountain on the banks of the Nile.


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Four colossal statues of Ramses sit majestically at  the entrance to the temple.


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Tourists dwarfed in front of the temple


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Rising to the Pharaoh’s knees are smaller statues of his mother, wife and son. {Some MCP this Ramses II ;)} (Left) ; A close-up of  one of the statues ? I note arrogance on his face..do you ?(Right)


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The Abu Simbel Temples do not sit in their original location. The construction of the Aswan High Dam,  threatened the temples at Abu Simbel and they were nearly submerged by the rising waters.  In 1964, the Egyptian Government secured the support of UNESCO and launched a world-wide appeal to save the temples.


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Piece by piece, craftsmen cut the temple, and the nearby temple of Hathor, into massive blocks of sandstone and both temples were carefully reassembled on a new steel and cement mountain, 60 meters up the cliff where they had been originally built.  Their removal and reconstruction was an historic event in itself and they were reassembled in the exact same relationship to each other and the sun, and covered with an artificial mountain.


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Note the original location of the Temples (where you can see the craters left behind) to the right of the picture


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Carved out of the mountains between 1274 and 1244 B.C., one of the statues collapsed in antiquity  and its upper body lies on the ground


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At the foot of one of the statues ? note the Hieroglyphs


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The ‘Ankh’ – Key of Life, consists of a cross surmounted by a loop arranged to resemble a key; as such it was thought to be the key to eternal life after death. Devon holding the Key to the Temple of Ramses.


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The corridor leading to the inner sanctum has pillar-like statues, showing Ramses as Osiris, the ancient god of life, death and fertility.(Left); Every nook and corner decorated with reliefs and paintings..even the roof(Right)


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Reliefs showing the Pharaoh in various battles, trampling his enemies and victorious at all times (His size exaggerated though).


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The inner sanctum of the main temple, contains statues of  Gods Amen-Re, Re-Harakhti, Ramses II and the god of darkness, Ptah. The axis of the temple was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that  twice a year the rays of the sun penetrated the temple and illuminate the inner sanctum of the temple. On February 22nd (the birthday of Ramses) and on October 22 (coronation of Ramses),   a shaft of sunlight pierces the darkness and illuminates the statues of the gods and the king in the temples inner sanctum.  The god of darkness, Ptah remains in the shadows all year.  This manifestation,  which has endured more than 3200 years of Egyptian history,  draws thousands of tourists to Abu Simbel each year. The statue to the left is that of  Ptah,  God of darkness.


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A side profile of the statue


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Devon finds a bench to sit at last.. note the trees and the lake in the background


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Lake Nasser and the pyramid like mounds in the background


The Temple of Hathor


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The rock-cut Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Queen Nefertari, Ramses? beloved wife. Six Statues, four represent Ramses, two Nefertari


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Carvings ? reliefs, Temple of Hathor.


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Inside, the walls are adorned with beautiful reliefs and colourful scenes of the goddess Hathor, the Cow goddess.


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A view of the two temples  side by side


Author: Judith Serrao- UAE


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