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Day Three: Valley of Kings, Queen Hatchepsut Temple and Colossi of Memnon

Luxor Travel Blog

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Colossi of Memnon

Our morning began rather early! Our guide Ahmed had told us he'd be picking us up at 7am and we'd want to get an early move on if we'd want  to enjoy the day at our leisure without too much sunshine. And what was our day going to be about? The WEST BANK of the River Nile and the attractions around that area. The thing about Egypt is that most of the main attractions of the country are situated along the River Nile. Luxor is one city that has the fortune of containing many of these attractions.

We drove through the early morning tourist rush of Luxor, crossed the Nile and it was quite interesting to see the fields, the houses, the dramatic hilly scenery in the background. And there we are, driving driving.

Colossi of Memnon
... and suddenly out of nowhere in the plain fields, these two majestic statues. Yes ladies and gentlemen, our FIRST stop of the day- the magnificent COLOSSI OF MEMNON. If the faceless statues are interesting, the history behind them is even more. These statues were built as part of a funerary temple by Amenhotep II. The temple which was supposed to be larger than the Karnak Temple no longer stands, every trace of the massive temple has disappeared save for these 2 statues. The statues attracted attention during the Graeco-Roman times when the visiting Romans thought the statue resembled the great King of Ethiopia named Memnon, hence the name. One of the statues was also known for emitting a "sound" during sunrise for a particular time in history. The cool thing about this attraction is that despite the amt of people that are visiting it every minute, it's quite easy to snap up pictures without worrying about others getting in the way.
We spent about 15 minutes here, really not much to see!

But this was obviously just the start. A few miles further into the Theban Hills, and rising out of nowhere and almost blending with the background was the limestone Temple of Queen Hatchepsut (watch local guides helping travellers remember this name by calling it 'hot chicken soup'). The temple, unlike others is built on three terrace levels, with ramps connecting each level. Highlight of the temple includes the homage paid to Amunra in the top most level in the 'Sanctuary of Amun'. Other highlights include the Hathor Chapel where all 12 pillars contain the image of the Goddess, and the Punt Portico. The reliefs that stunned us were the ones present to the right of the temple by the Chapel of Anubis. The paintings still have a distinct original orange and red colour to them.

The Temple of Queen Hatchepsut
We spent a good 1 hour here. This was a temple that was on my photo-op list given that it features extensively in lots of books. Infact, next to the Giza Pyramids and the Avenue of Sphinxes, I'd say that this temple is the most featured in travel books.

From here, we made a quick pitstop at a tourist trap - a local limestone artisan's showroom. They show how artisans cut limestone and prepare souvenirs out of it, before leading you into an airconditioned room with the souvenirs for sale. Typical of what one would expect in these places, the prices are an absolute ripoff and what's sad is that their sales pitch is so obvious that you just DO NOT want to buy anything they sell. It was an  absolute waste of time, this place. The only consolation being the air conditioned room!

But from here, things were getting interesting again, as we headed into the sombre VALLEY OF THE KINGS.

This was the burial place for almost ALL of Egypt's royalty. Name the King and his tomb is here. Whilst there is no fee for entrance to the valley, the biggest tourist trap of this place was the Tomb of King Tutankhamun. Our guide advised us against going there, and instead used his "contacts" to take us to the Tomb of King Ay, successor of King Tutankamun and rumoured father of Queen Nefertiti. I normally don't panic when I'm on a trip, I'm usually just immersing myself in the surroundings of the place. But I must admit, this was one place I got a bit scared. What happened was the area itself - all valleys and hills and narrow roads and very easy to get lost. Secondly, the Tomb of Ay is a bit off the beaten path. So Ahmed takes us through this desolate narrow road through a bunch of hills till we have no clue where we are, and he stopped at what looked like a sentry house where 2 Arabic men dressed in proper 'Arab attire' came on board, one of them had a gun!!! Oh dear! Not the kind of Agatha Christie ending I was hoping for.
the Amun Sanctuary
...! Anyways it turned out to be peaceful later. It turns out that the Tomb of Ay isn't open for public viewing and these men were actually guards for the Tomb, and were letting us into the Tomb more as a 'favour' for Ahmed (read, they get a share of the profit!).

The entrance to the tomb was eerie. They have this awful wooden staircase leading down. It's steep, it's slippery and the steps aren't levelled the same way. But once inside the tomb, as the pictures themselves reveal, was a delight in itself. How did the ancient Egyptians find these places? How did they build ALL that? How did they decorate it so well??? Just all too impressive.

We got done with the Valley of Kings in about an hour or so, and Ahmed briefly took us to the now in ruins Colony of workers.

The Hathor Chapel - note each pillar containing an image of the Goddess
This wasn't really a masterpiece or anything. Infact I didn't find it very historically significant at all. Apparently it's just ruins of the workers' houses, the same workers that worked on the several temples in the area.

We returned to our boat by about noon and had an hour at our disposal before lunch time. We used the time to visit some of the souvenir stores by the Nile where all the cruise boats stop. We bought a few souvenirs before heading back to the boat for lunch and a nap. The boat finally started moving. We were now OFFICIALLY sailing the River Nile!

I had seen pictures of the 'traffic jams' on the Nile, I just hadn't imagined it would be anything like what we were about to experience. Another new experience for me was the salesmen that sell their stuff to tourists on cruise boats.

paintings with the original colour still intact
They actually come in little boats, and throw the clothes they're selling to the tourist! Yes, no matter how high he is. We had people throwing things with precision at us up at the deck! If you don't like it, you just throw it back. It's ok if it falls into the water! Quite an experience to watch. We didn't buy anything of course.

I took a swim that evening, was quite cool! And rest of the evening was spent just relaxing on the deck before an early dinner. We were originally told that we'd be stopping off at Esna but according to the latest schedule, the boat was going directly to Edfu and would reach Edfu by sunrise. That was our next stop!

Click on Next Entries on the Left to read about Edfu Temple

cotton_foam says:
I will come back to read the rest...
Posted on: Oct 18, 2014
sheba124 says:
Love your blog. You have some beautiful shots. Hope to make it there in '08
Posted on: Dec 15, 2007
Vikram says:
Extremely!!!
Posted on: Jun 10, 2007
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Colossi of Memnon
Colossi of Memnon
Colossi of Memnon
Colossi of Memnon
The Temple of Queen Hatchepsut
The Temple of Queen Hatchepsut
the Amun Sanctuary
the Amun Sanctuary
The Hathor Chapel - note each pill…
The Hathor Chapel - note each pil…
paintings with the original colour…
paintings with the original colou…
the Punt Portico
the Punt Portico
limestone artisans
limestone artisans
original limestone souvenirs
original limestone souvenirs
the Workers colony
the Workers' colony
The Valley of Kings
The Valley of Kings
the Tomb of King Ay
the Tomb of King Ay
View of our cruiseboat during earl…
View of our cruiseboat during ear…
The Winter Palace, Luxors top l…
"The Winter Palace", Luxor's top …
the deck
the deck
vendors on the River Nile selling …
vendors on the River Nile selling…
Luxor
photo by: LadyMaja