Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Today I was going to visit the place my bedtime stories were made up of....Abu Simbel and I knew it was going to be an emotional trip for me. Our transfer picked us up at 03:30 and we started the long trip by convoy. Fortunately both Meg and I slept for a large part of the three hour trip. It’s an amazing place and one dad and I had on our bucket lists. The weather was heating up and reaching our destination at 7am meant that we had just 3 hours to move through the temples before our convoy left for Aswan again. So why Abu Simbel. Well Ramses II (the one Moses grew up with… met him in Cairo part two) built two temples. One for himself and one for his wife. He built the temples a looooooooooong way south of Aswan just beyond the tropic of cancer almost as an in your face to his enemies and he filled the temples with stories of his war victories. But that's not all Abu Simbel is known for. For many years the water from the surrounding Nasser lake rose during the winter months destroying and damaging many of the artifacts. So in 1960 both temples were moved block by block to relocate them out of the way of the rising water. An engineering feet. The great temple of Ramses was carved out of the mountain on the west bank somewhere between 1274 and 1244BC....that's a long time ago. The temple is as much dedicated to Ramses as the gods Ra-Horakhty, Amun and Ptah. The temple was lost to the world as sand and time hid it but it was rediscovered in 1817. The great temple is huge and is so incredible it leaves you breathless. 

Next to Ramses great temple there is the temple of Hathor which was the god of children. The walls inside are incredible. They seem softer and more graceful than the great temple. It is truly beautiful. Abu Simbel was also our first taste of what it must have been like with all the colours on the walls.

Some history…..the temples were originally carved out of the mountainside from two massive rocks.  The twin temples were built in about the 13 century BC and was designed to stand as a lasting monument to Ramses and his queen Nefertari.  It was to commemorate his apparent victory at the battle of Kadesh and also to intimidate his Nubian neighbours.  When it became necessary to relocate the temples in order to protect them from being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the architects moved the temples and constructed an artificial hill made from a domed structure to “house” the temples. They recon it took about 20 years to build the Great Temple so it would have been completed around Ramses 24th year of reign. Abu Simbel is considered the grandest and most beautiful temple commissioned by our friend Ramses and it is one of the most beautiful in all of Egypt.  You won’t hear any arguments from me!!

At the entrance to the Great Temple there are four colossal statues of Ramses wearing both the crowns of upper and lower Egypt.  They are HUGE!!! One of the statues apparently lost his head during an earthquake shortly after the temple was constructed and when they moved the temple they decided to leave the head off as parts of the face are missing.  Wish my dad could have told you his take on the “case of the missing face”!!

Inside the Great Temple there is a spectacular credit to the ancient Egyptian architects because the way the axis of the temple was position, on 22 October and 22 February the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculptures on the back wall….illuminate all except the statue of Ptah, the god connected with the underworld which remains in the dark.  After its relocation this feat appears on 21 October and 21 February instead and people come from all over the world to witness this amazing sight.

The Small temple or the Temple of Hathor and Nefertari is about 100 meters away from the Great Temple and was dedicated to Hathor. Nefertari was the chief consort of Ramses and it is said that he loved her a great deal. At the entrance there are statues of the king and his queen but what is surprising is that this is the only time in Egyptian “art” where the kind and queen (consort) are equal in size. Traditionally, even though the statue of the queen stood next to those of pharaoh they were never taller than his knees.  Nefertari being the same size as her pharaoh bears witness to the special importance Ramses placed on his queen.

There were no photos allowed to be taken inside which on the one hand I respect but on the other I was itching to capture some of the scenes….I was however blessed and given a CD for my birthday from our guide Mohammed with some photos of the inside of the temple.  He was on a VIP trip last year and was given permission to use his camera inside the temples…..a very rare honour.

After the “tour” was done I went back to the entrance of the Great Temple and sat in front of the massive statues and thought about my dad.  I thought about how we had talked about me using skype to show him Abu Simbel and how he would have loved to have seen the details of every carving, every statue and how he would have soaked up the history like a sponge.  My heart ached and when we got back to Aswan I wrote him a letter which I will share with you tomorrow…..of course I can’t help myself!!

Before leaving Abu Simbel w
e stopped for something cold to drink which was very welcome after being in the crazy dessert heat (and this winter people....winter). Then we had to make our final pit stop before the three hour trip back. It was not pleasant to say the least is was all kinds of hot and the dessert goes on and on as the temperature rises. You can't drink much because there is no place for a pee pee break.

We got back into Aswan and picked up our luggage from the hotel. Then we made our way to the cruise boat that will be our home for the next couple of days. We were in time for a wonderful buffet lunch and then we had a quick briefing with our guide.

Meg and I came back to our cabin with every intentions of having a nap (02:30 wake up call remember) but well we ended up chatting instead. Ai this girl is just so so special and the more I get to know her the more I love her.

The cruise is amazing and so we decided to celebrate being on the Nile.  We got all dressed up for dinner and even had cocktails (yet another thing we won’t be sharing with her dad!!)

We took our time over dinner but eventually the emotions of the day and the long hours got the better of us and we crawled into bed and while Meg journaled I watched a movie.

Tomorrow we sail for Kom Ombo and celebrate my birthday.

Trying to cool down

Writing in her journal

No comments: