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Published: December 27th 2022
Mortuary Temple of Hatshetput ( meaning foremost of Nobel women)
With three massive terraces, it was an ancient masterpiece. It was dedicated to the Sun God - Amun Re with chambors for Hathor and Anubis. She was the only female pharaoh and depicted herself as a male in the temples including in Karnak temple.
Legends of Luxor
-Piprey on wheels Luxor
was formerly called Thebes or Waset. It was the capital of the Pharaohs. It encapsulated all the wonderful things of ancient Egypt
. A long-distance train from Cairo at 8am to reach Luxor at 8pm, took about 12 hours
. With my zero knowledge of Arabic, conversation was impossible. Perhaps, a flight would have been a better idea.
The grilled chicken lunch of the train for cost 125 LE and was bland.
My co-passenger on the window seat shared his lunch of thin, long baguette with cheese and thin, meat salami which was much tastier and filling.
I bought some knick-knacks like hair bands
and gave two to the two young sisters playing about in the train. At Luxor, my co-passenger showed me the correct way out to the city center.
I had just got out and started to orient myself when he returned back to take me to the other side as he had made a mistake. Bless this kind Egyptian man.
After taking some wrong turns (all look thesame in a new city), I landed at the Happy Land
hostel. A bright board welcomed me, one in the middle of a narrow lanes like the old parts of cities.
I ordered dinner and was treated to an elaborate Egyptian meal of grilled chicken, rice, mahsi (stuffed vegetable), molkhiya ( jute leaf soup) and fresh green salad.
As I sat among the hostelmates on the terrace on a
Inside Hatshetput's temple
See the ceiling with blue sky and yellow stars?
moonlit night, I asked the hostelmates to share my meal as it was a feast
. I was told, if you drink the water of river Nile, you will return. The feeling only went stronger as I continued my travels
We visited the Valley of Kings
on the other side of river Nile. It was mostly desert.
Our group guide with crooked teeth oscillated between British, American and Arabic English. He cracked jokes but historical explanations eluded him.
The only known female pharaoh named Hatshepsut
built a massive three storeyed tomb. Unfortunately, it was buried in sand and the top terracehad to be reconstructed. She is depicted as a male because it was unthinkable for a woman to be a pharaoh around 1450 BC.
Has attitudes to women changed since?
The valley of Kings
had about 46 tombs
. Any 3 were allowed in the ticket. It was a hot day.
All important people had a sun on their heads in between the horns of a ram, depicting the power of the ram and divinity of the Sun
All the tombs had amazing, well preserved paintings on the walls, depicting the gods, pharaohs making offerings with incense, fruits, flowers- lotus or papyrus and spells for a wonderful passage to afterlife. There were dolls which were added to tombs so that they worked for the pharaohs.
. It was a different world. Tutankhamen's tomb was also here but I did not visit it as there was an expensive ticket.
That evening, I drank fresh sugar cane juice for 5 LE and ate local bakery items like buns
filled with coconut, which reminded me of local bakery in Talegaon, Goa. Though, it was becoming off season now, drank mango juice again. Hot air balloon
is another experience. Where better to do it than over the beautiful desert tombs of Valley of Kings?
Again, we got ready by 4.30am. In a convoy which must have captured the whole of Luxor, we went over to a big field across the Nile. At an appointed time, the balloons began to be inflated with hot air. It was a memorable sight. We took off gently. I watched a white bird fly below me, which gave me a true bird's eye view.
The sunrise and the cloth of gold over the ruins with the green fields of sugarcane and alfalfa was a visual delight.
We descended gently and after the guide tried to make us buy some handicrafts and a lunch, was back at the hostel.
I walked to Luxor temple,
mesmerised by the excellent lightings. The thick stone pillars to support the stone roof, the line of sphinxes on both sides (some said orginally all the way to Karnak) was the procession route of the pharaohs who worshipped here.
Pharaohs who lived where carved up with a foot in front of them while those dead had their feet wrapped up
like a mummy. It was indeed an open museum. Their wives and children were carved between their feet in most cases.
It was hot. Still with an umbrella and a guide, I completed the visit to the massive Karnak temple. It had loads of temple structure and a lake. It was massive but smaller than Ankor Wat, Cambodia. That evening, I ate a massive Fatir ( Big laccha paratha) for dinner. Also, arranged with Egyptian tourist board for a private car to cover Edfu, Kom Ombo to Aswan with all the proper tourist permits. Was not to be disappointed.
Luxor had many foreign tour groups as a preferred destination. If you want to see the best of Egypt, Luxor is the place to visit.
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