God of Pharaohs, Amun Ra
Karnak, Temple complex:
Yesterday was dazed with Egypt’s royalty through Pharaohs, Queens, and Noble’s tombs. The way those were skilfully planned during those days was a wonder in itself. Every tomb when it was opened in modern times, was full of their belongings and what might be needed by them. Most fascinating was King Tut. With the amount of gold used in his belongings might have run a very small country for a month. Courtiers of every Royalty and Royalty himself or herself left their impression and likings through findings in their tombs. Even a few tombs had boats made of gold. Also very minor belongings such as combs and walking sticks.
I got up this morning with a doubt in mind. Whether I am alive in modern days or waking up like a mummy in a tomb. Though no mummies are kept there and little did I know, I was going to see actual mummified bodies in the Cairo museum in the next few days.
Today was another longest day in my Eastern explorations. With the Karnak temples complex and Luxor Temples and in the evening travel to Aswan looked like an eventful day. The guide was as usual punctual. He had to finish the tour of Karnak. Yesterday was my first day with him and he had seen my deep interest in historical places. Also seen the time taken by me at every place. So today was going to be a real test for him. He had to push me to finish the tour without hurting my sentiments. I could clearly see from his movements. For me, I had to see maximum sites and cover as many as possible temples and statues. I wasn’t going to come back this far to see again. That was also against my aim – in life, time and money is short and you have to finish visiting or witnessing or experiencing as many things as possible without compromising on not seeing anything important.
We drove almost opposite of Valley of Tombs directions. Early morning with lesser crowded streets, it showed the Luxor’s actual avatar without tourists and agents. It was a typical touristy town that flourished due to tourism. Though the town doesn’t give away immediately what its famous for. Once a powerful city, now just shows glimpses before you visit the two temples, it is famous for. Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple.
Today’s Luxury town has everything catered to tourists. Main streets are crowded with foreign exchange bureaus, mobile recharge shops, souvenirs shops, jewelry shops. Also noticed were cloth shops. Looks like or at least was told to me, Egyptian silk is one of the best. Made it a point to pick-up something to my close friends. Though my friends always accuse me of not giving them whatever I bring from my various not so trodden places. I actually fall in love with those souvenirs and keeps it with me. A few close friends have already pushing me hard to add their name in my Will for these artifacts and many of them don’t reach the people for whom I buy.
After reaching the temple, the first thing I noticed the feature of this gigantic Temple of Karnak which is a gem of ancient Egypt. It gives away a superiority of ancient Egyptian architecture and the world’s one of the largest temples. Imagine a temple so huge is built with manual labor or some technology that is not so known in today’s world. Surely, as mentioned earlier, you need to visit these temples twice. Once in daylight to admire the engineering and artistic wonder. In the night, to get mesmerized to witness sound and light show. I was half lucky. When I visited, the show was canceled due to some technical problems.
Ancient Egyptians had a prowess of building gigantic: There was a story in circulation about speculations of how these temples were built. According to some, these temples, pyramids are not built by humans, but by aliens. The section of the crowd who didn’t believe in the prowess of Egyptians in Engineering spread this logic. If the locals knew about this technology, where this knowledge was disappeared? And why we struggle or take time to build dams or huge architecture with modern machinery? One part of my mind agreed to this theory. With this thought in mind, here came the Karnak Temple towering in front of me.
Karnak temple and its creators:
A little bit about Karnak temple from the waterfall-like information which guide poured on me and remembered is, this particular temple is dedicated to Amun, an invisible god, Mut, his queen, and their son, Khonsu. This temple is counted as the largest religious building on earth of any era. Karnak Temple also is known as a selection of places in ancient Egypt.
According to available information, Amenhotep III and Ramses II Pharaohs were the main brains behind the construction of the temple: under the rule of Amenhotep III interior was built, and the Ramses II was the creator of the outer enclosure. This period was the 12th century BC.
A landmark in Egyptian history:
Though it says that the Construction of this Temple city started about 4000 years back and was spread for the longest time of Egyptian. A period history says is around 2000 years. Every Pharaoh kept on adding or building a new side keeping the same perspective. Their dedication towards their gods remained unchanged. They added their glorious rule with more statues, paintings, and carvings. This perilous place has an aura eclipsing modern world wonders. In its glorious days, one can imagine its glory awe-inspiring. The entire city is spread over 100 hectares and takes at least 3-4 days to cover. From the exterior, the guide showed me a way to enter the central portion which amounts to the largest area of the entire city. This area mostly dedicated to Amun-Ra.
Gods of Pharaohs Amun Ra, Mut and Montu:
The concept behind this temple is to establish a connection between Amun-Ra, God of the universe, and Pharaoh, ruler of the earth. Various parts of this temple are dedicated to different gods like, Mut, Amun Ra’s wife, Montu, God of war who is Falcon headed, Aten, the sun disk.
With this initial information, I was showed the way to the main important structure of this temple.
Beyond the walls of the main temple, there are various smaller temples, shrines, statues, high columns spread across this temple city. The entire structure is in limestone which is pinkish-red in color and matches the light brown color of the desert. I was in rush to finish the complete Karnak tour, so the guide rushed me to the main building which is The Great Hypostyle Hall, the most fantastic and largest building at Karnak. built by Seti I, a ruler who ruled in the 13th centuryB.C. As mentioned on the information bureau, On the outside walls are scenes showing Seti and his successor, Ramesses II, smiting enemies from Libya, Syria, and the Levant. Shortly after it was constructed, this hall looks more seen for the setting for the coronation and other royal ceremonies where royalty can sit at the higher side and courtiers at the lower side.
An architectural marvel of Karnak is the hypostyle hall. Built way back in 1250 BCE in the Ramesside dynasty period. The specialty of this style of wall is many columns support a roof. In this case, 134 massive columns made in sandstone and center of the tomb well supported by twelve columns at 69 feet. With brightly painted walls wall gives a feeling of temple decorations. When you walk through the pillars, dwarfish feel is not to be ignored. It’s like walking inside a Pine tree forest. Though the lower part of the paint on columns is pilled off, the upper half of the pain still gives glimpses of its glorious past. One thing I like about this is, Egyptians haven’t tried to touch it up with modern-day paint, so the sanctity remains untouched. Due to the taller structure in the center, light and air is balanced and don’t look dark and gloomy at the taller side. This style is called clerestory lighting as per my encyclopedia-alike guide. I could write so much just because of him and some notes which I made. All these columns are built in sandstone and mud-brick but still survived for so many thousands of years.
The guide was continuously glancing at his wristwatch and I was ignoring him. Finally, he spoke, ‘Sir, can we finish this last sightseeing faster as we have to travel for almost 240 km.’ Even by the good standard of Egyptian roads, it would have taken 4/5 hours. Also, he was taking into consideration the rules of driving with guests late in the evening which I mentioned in my earlier blog. Though this temple is again an archaeological wonder I had to rush it. Time and again, I have mentioned in my Egypt blogs of not keeping enough time for these wonders. There wasn’t any point in repenting.I asked my guide to give a quick overview of this temple.
A King named Amenhotep (name difficult to remember, so a google reference to recall my memory) in 14th BCE laid the foundation of this temple or first construction.
I remembered this story because it had a struggle. Normally a regular story of any event is difficult to remember unless there is a fight or struggle against destiny.
Even king has to prove royalty:
King Amenhotep was not born in a royal family who belonged to a lineage of Pharaohs, so he was denied the right to the throne. What a situation. Even a king is denied the right because he was a step lower. During those days or in all Pharoh’s dynasties as mentioned earlier God Amun Ra was the God of Gods. To prove to the priests of Amun Ra about his worthiness, he built this amazing Temple of Luxor dedicated to Amun Ra.
Later on, kings of the 18th and 19th dynasties in 14 and 15th Century BCE added many sections. This story sounds repeated just like Kanak Temple. This involves famous Pharoah like Ramesses II and Queen Hatshepsut also.
Luxor Temple’s overview in short:
This might create an imagery of the temple. At the entrance, You can see huge statues of Ramesses II. Mostly on this temple’s his imprint is prominent. His victories, work, and 70 + his statues on columns (can’t remember the exact number) . This is additional work by him. Once you enter, you can see the original constructor’s i.e. Amenhotep’s memories in the form of his statues. Inside, I could see or hear stories about these two king’s offering to god, Amun, and his wife Mut. I could see a glimpse of a Solar court built by Amenhotep III. This was so confusing to me remembering all these king’s names, so I just glanced through the rest of the temple. Even during his rule as Greek king, Alexander the great has a shrine to show Greek rule on Egypt.
Temples and more temples of Luxor:
There are various other attractions in Luxor which I had miss due to a time-bound plan. If you make a plan of 4/ 5 days for Luxor, you can cover most of it like Khonsu Temple, child of Amun Ra, and Mut. Next is a mysterious Edifice of Karnak’s sacred lake, a partly underground structure. This was built by a Nubian king who came from today’s Sudan country which is neighboring to Egypt. The last main structure one can add in their wishlist would be Nectanebo I by the last dynasty of Pharaoh. After the end of the Pharaoh rules, Egypt was mostly ruled by people who traveled from Rome, Greece, and Persia.
A piece of advice reiterated in this action:
There were so many things to cover and so little time. Again I am insisting on not repeating my mistake of traveling on a tight timeline. You should give justice to these wonders which you might not go to visit again in your life unless you plan to settle in Egypt falling in love with Egyptian beauty. I didn’t have any intention of doing that and finally traveled towards my hotel. It was the longest day amongst all my tours, but it was worth by immersing in rich Egyptian Heritage.
The uniqueness of every UNESCO HERITAGE sites:
This city of temples is so large; it can only be compared to Cambodia’s Angkor Vat or India’s Hampi complex. I am comparing just the magnitude and not in terms of artistic impression or style of carvings. Every place has its own uniqueness. Realized this, after visiting all three UNESCO Heritage sites. I am sure, it’s the same case with other sites as well. Will cover the other two sites in future blogs. Those journeys and magic are also incomparable to all these sites. As mentioned earlier, Karnak Temple is an open museum of gigantism, Angkor Vat gives a mysterious feel, while Hampi is an example of fine artistic impression.
If Egypt could bring back every artifact stolen from their country, entire Cairo could have to be converted as a museum. Anyways, by the end of 2021, the Cairo Museum is going to be three times bigger than I visited in 2017.
To explore Egypt through my lens the way I explored,
keep reading 4 more blogs on Egypt explorations.
A little I knew, when I will visit the Cairo museum I will see actual mummy and could manage to click some pics. Yes, I have them and might add in my last part, so that mummies can not hound me, since I would have finished my Egypt tour and sharing memories also.