Nile Cruise

Trip Start Nov 24, 2010
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5
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Trip End Dec 02, 2010


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Where I stayed
Moonlight River cruise
What I did
Aswan, Edfu,
Kom Ombo

Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, November 26, 2010

Well after an evening thoroughly enjoyed shopping in the Aswan souk, we set out to visit the Temple of Isis on Philae Island.
The only way to get to the temple is by boat and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Just like Abu Simbel, this monument was also threatened to be submerged under water due to the construction of the High Dam. The temple was broken and reassembled into a neighbouring island of Agilka where it currently stands. You sail past the temple before you reach its entrance and the glimpse is enough to heighten your curiosity.
The temple was built in the Greco-Roman period and is dedicated to the goddess Isis, particularly popular in the Roman era when pilgrims would travel to this temple from all over the Mediterranean world. It has an impressive colonnade of more than 30 columns which leads the way to the inner 2 pylons and a hypostyle hall right to the sanctuary of Isis. Although the layout and the structure of the temple is quite similar to the rest of the temples in Egypt, the blend with the Greco-Roman style of architecture can be easily noted.
On the right side of the first pylon is the structure called as Kiosk of Trajan, which served as the main entrance when the temple was built. Although the roof no longer exists, the columns which supported the then roof are impressive and well preserved.

We returned from Philae to our cruise and the next surprise was the felucca boat ride. Feluccas are the traditional sailboats of the Nile and a ride in one is a must to do when in Egypt. Although it was noon by the time with the sun glaring down on us, the ride was very pleasant with gentle breeze and the rhythmic soothing sound of the water and the oars.

We returned to our cruise and just when we were about to begin our lunch, the cruise lifted the anchors and started sailing towards Luxor. As it was my first experience on a ship, I was a bit nervous it as the cruise was not a big liner. But to my relief the cruise was literally gliding over the blue waters of Nile. After a hurried lunch, we ran up to the deck and settled down under the shades.
It was an idyllic scene to behold with the Nile spread in front of you, her breadth increasing as we moved North, with her green banks and golden deserts. All of us were silent, lost in thoughts, as if savouring the very idle moments we all so much lack in our daily metro lives. Before long it was evening and witnessed a stunning sunset on the Nile. The entire hue of golden and orange was painted on the wide canvas of sky, with the silhouette of the passing trees, minars and houses adding to the charm.
We soon docked at Kom Ombo for the dual temple of Sobek(crocodile god) and Haroeris(Horus the Elder). In this temple everything is duplicated along the main axis. There are two entrances, two courts, two colonades, two hypostyle halls and two sanctuaries.. The right part of the temple was consecrated to Sobek, the left to Haroeris. Although there are not much remains of the temple, the engravings on the outer pylons are surprising very well preserved. Seeing an ancient temple at night is very different experience and definitely adds to the mystic atmosphere.

We had an early wake up call in the morning as we had docked at Edfu after sailing overnight. A short uneventful horse drawn carriage drive and we were in the waiting area of the Edfu temple premises. As with any other attraction in Egypt, there were hoards of tourist already waiting and many more joined as we waited for the gates to open. From the gates to the actual temple compound is a short 5-7 minute walk and it would seem that we were actually approaching the temple from its rear side rather than the original entrance. Edfu is one of the most complete and well preserved temple in Egypt primarily because it was mostly submerged in desert. The pylons are huge and almost intact with their huge walls being entirely covered with the pictorial depictions of the Horus- the falcon god. There are 2 huge statues of the god in single monolithic granite stones. Both of these have a very haughty expression, almost of disdain. A good photo stop , I would say :-).

Return from Edfu and set sail again towards Luxor. There were no more excursions planned for the day and we had an entire day in front of us with nothing to do. This particular part of Egypt is not well connected in terms of digital communication so cell phones were not working, no television or radio, no newspapers, no internet. An entire day totally cut off from the entire world. It seemed quite a daunting task to spend an entire day doing literally nothing especially for us who normally are almost all the time doing SOMETHING or other. To my surprise, it was the best ever day that I have spent in my yet lived life. The relaxed, at peace feeling, away for all the troubles and tensions was invigorating. The greenery on the banks was soothing the eyes, the cool breeze was cooling the skin and the music of the water by the ship edges was refreshing to the ears.
The fertility that Nile brings to Egypt was evident and really understood the meaning of "Nile is the gift of God to Egypt". Without Nile, Egypt would not have been THE Egypt and the civilization born and blossomed on the banks of the Nile would not have been possible.
We crossed the Esna lock in the afternoon, and it was real fun to watch entire ships being loaded from one of the lock and passed on to other. Another interesting part during the crossing was the mobile sellers. Normally these are young boys who sail in their smaller versions of felucca boats alongside the cruise, selling knick knacks like scarves, shawals etc. They wrap the goodies in a plastic bag and throw at you. You are suppose to catch it, have a look , bargain with them and then throw back the plastic bag either with the returned goodies or money back to them. And all this continues while both the cruise and their boats are sailing. Incase any of the plastic bag throws misses the target, these boys would swiftly jump into the river and retrieve it back. It was fun to watch the mobile stores and the sellers alike ;-)

As we had got a bit stranded at the Esna lake we were not able to make it to Luxor early so had to enjoy Luxor the next day. It was almost 8.00 pm and me and my hubby were on the deck enjoying the breeze, wrapped in shawals. The lights on the deck were very dim and we sailed past an area which was not inhabited and did not have any sort of lights. We happened to look at the sky and witnessed a star studded sky. It was as if a the creator himself has thrown diamond dust on the black velvety gown of the earth which was glittering all the way up to the horizon. Big and small stars of different colours and hues were shimmering and smiling down on us. It was really a night to remember under the star gaze.
Floating over an ocean of stars we soon Luxor and guess what our cruise ship anchored right in front of the Luxor temple which was aglow in the yellow flood lights. As it was quite late in the night, we decided to visit the temple next...couldnt wait for the morning to arise!!!
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