Tag Archive: Ramses II



A bunch of close friends. “Barkada”. We’ve long planned this — and planned around a 5-night Nile Cruise on a chartered Dahabiya or sailboat. Cairo and Alexandra first, prior to the cruise from Luxor to Aswan. Then 3 more nights in Aswan to include a day trip to Abu Simbel. There were concerns prior to the trip. Left on February 17, about the time when the world is whirling and reeling from Coronavirus issues. But we were all set for this trip. So, armed with masks, wipes and alcohol sprays, we went. The flights to Cairo and then to Luxor, as well as the long drives to Alexandria and Abu Simbel were uneventful. The weather was perfect, all rides comfortable, though I must confess we underestimated Egypt’s cold temps. The whole cruising time, we had breakfasts on the riverboat’s deck in our terry bathrobes. The same robes we donned for dinners! It grew warmer by the time we reached Aswan and Abu Simbel. Finally, we parked our boots and rubber shoes and wore our sandals to go shopping. All throughout the journey, we were floored by all these ancient wonders and happily absorbed all the ancient history lessons. It was our luck that we had very competent tour guides. Egyptologists. Yes, you take special courses for that. We also met some foreign Egyptologists in the hotels where we stayed — archaeologists who specialise in Ancient Egypt. Such interesting people. The ones we met must be in their 60s-70s but you can still sense that burning passion in them. The kind you can almost touch! By journey’s end, we can only feel so thankful for the wonderful cruising adventure, the excitement triggered by the history lessons, the fun and mirth all throughout the holiday and most importantly the good health and safety enjoyed by everyone. This is our story. Feel free to click on the links for more photos and details.

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/02/21/the-sphinx-and-moi/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/02/22/revisiting-cairo/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/02/24/alexandria/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/02/25/ballooning-in-luxor-egypt/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/02/25/gliding-through-the-nile/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/02/29/the-ancient-temples-of-luxor/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/03/06/of-egyptian-gods-man-gods/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/03/18/sailing-without-care/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/03/19/abu-simbel-finally/
https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2020/03/19/aswan-as-two/

Abu Simbel, Finally


Back in 1996, I blew the chance to visit Abu Simbel. I was on the last stretch of my 38-day holiday and I’ve grown tired of temples and shrines. Although I found the idea romantic — dismantling not one but 2 temples, and reassembling them on a higher hill to make way for the Aswan Dam construction back in the 1960’s — I wasn’t lured to make the visit. I was truly exhausted, and suffering from temple fatigue then. Or perhaps just travel fatigue. After 30 days, I was really longing to be home and found my tired self struggling with the last leg of the trip. But not this time. I was ready for Abu Simbel. I didn’t take the buggy ride to the temples and instead walked with the others. The path offers a view of the Nile River and the temples were hidden from view from the entrance. We passed a paved path crossing a rugged terrain. Behind the mounds and soon after a bend, Abu Simbel stood in all its majesty. After having survived the last 3,000 years some meters below, Abu Simbel looks like it’s always stood where it is now. There were other temples rescued from the rising waters of the Nile, but none more dramatic than this. Short of a miracle, you might say.

It was an engineering feat. Built in 1244 BC, the 2 temples were carved out of the side of a mountain. The Pharaoh Ramses II immortalised himself with not one, not two, but 4 colossal seated statues measuring 21 meters tall. Above these 4 deified statues of Egypt’s greatest and long-reigning Pharaoh, were statues of sun-worshipping baboons. Most interestingly and impressively, the entranceways catch the sunlight twice a year in such a way that it beams straight into the temple sanctuary’s seated statues. The dates are October 22 and February 22, both of which hold special meaning to me. Of course, I won’t forget. 😊 I can just imagine the crowd here as both locals and tourists witness the phenomenon. Too bad we missed February 22 by a week. Sob. 😢

The smaller temple is not exactly small. Built for the Pharaoh’s favorite Queen Nefertari but dedicated to Goddess Hathur, the 6 statues gracing the front in between the buttresses measured 10 meters each. Of the 6, the 2 statues were of the Queen and the rest of Ramses II. Imagine what an arduous task it was to relocate these temples 64 meters higher and 180 meters west of the original site. Even more interesting is the fact that this site is actually beyond the Aswan border and technically part of Nubia, resting by the southern border to present-day Sudan. Having said that, the site selection only goes to prove the might of Ramses II. Undoubtedly, he built all these monuments to flaunt such might, Egypt’s wealth and his “affinity” with the gods. Truly, a powerful image to convey who’s in charge. Quite a character, methinks. 🙄

After the visit, I couldn’t fathom how I didn’t feel compelled to visit 24 years ago. The rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel is an engineering wonder and even by themselves, one can’t help but be impressed-amused by this king’s stab at immortality. Even the image of the Egyptian sun god Ra in front is dwarfed by the colossal likenesses of Ramses II, with his Queen sculpted like tiny dolls beside his legs and his princesses between. This glaring glimpse into Ramses II’s ambition and self-importance may have supported this building spree during his long reign. Thankfully for us, these monuments survived through hell and high waters (pun intended) for many generations to appreciate this important segment of history.