I spoke about the West bank and its various attractions in my last post here. The tour of Luxor city is considered incomplete without the East bank of the Nile River. The two major temples of the Ancient Upper Egypt are located on the East bank.
The tour next day was only half a day long as there were just the two temples to be explored. But these temples actually hold supreme importance in the history of Egypt. It was my last day on the Cruise ship and although I was really excited to explore the city’s historical gems, I was quite upset to see my Cruise experience end. I ended up spending the rest of the day exploring the East bank of the grandiose Luxor city.
Karnak temple was the largest religious building ever built during the realms of Ancient Egypt. Unlike the other temples of Ancient Egypt which were usually built by separate Pharaohs during their own reigns, the establishment of the Karnak temple was contributed to, by various Pharaohs over a long period of time. The temple which was built more than 2000 years ago has been the centre of Egyptian culture for a long time. The temple hasn’t been preserved as lavishly as the Edfu Temple, Edfu (read here) but the ruins are intact and can be seen at the temple. The artwork and pictorial representations of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation can be easily witnessed on the monumental walls and pillars of the temple. The Karnak premises were constructed by uniting four temples dedicated to four different Gods. This is you’d definitely not want to miss if you are in Luxor city.
While our Cruise ship was being anchored onto the bank of Nile River in Luxor city, we could clearly observe the sight of the huge temple ruins by the river bank. The ruins belonged to the Luxor temple, from which the name of the city has been derived. The Luxor temple which dates back to around 1392 BC was founded by Amenhotep III (1390-52 BC) and completed by Tutankhamun, Horemheb and added to by Rameses II. Towards the rear side of the temple, is a granite shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great, which was added to the temple when Alexander visited Egypt. He also tried to embed his pictures along with those of the Egyptian Gods at the back of the temple. That didn’t work out well due to the differences in ancient Egyptian art and early 1st-century art being clearly visible. The temple was buried underground for many years, during which, a working mosque was established over the temple land during the Islamic reign in Luxor. It’s fascinating to see how a single monument serves as a temple, a mosque as well as a Christian church. It’s one of those things which is hard to miss out on as it’s clearly visible from the banks of the river Nile.
Light Show in Karnak Temple:
I reached Luxor during the evening and had nothing much to do. So my travel guide suggested me the night light show in Karnak temple. It was a walk-through the light show in the huge temple, where projections of different eras of Egyptian history and the stories behind the contributions of different Pharaohs were being demonstrated. The show was not only entertaining; I learnt a lot of new facts about the History of Ancient Egypt and was mesmerised by the visual delight. The projections were creatively designed and the combination of audio and video kept the travellers engaged throughout the 2-hour show. In the end, there was a 20 minute light show near a secret lake in the temple that was really well designed.
Buy a Papyrus painting
One of unique things you will get to witness all across Egypt, are paintings on Papyrus paper. Papyrus was the plant used in ancient Egypt to make paper and was painted upon by the people as a part of Egyptian culture. Most of the shops usually have huge discounts on the papyrus paintings because of the rarity of tourists; but what’s interesting is that they also demonstrate the process of paper-making from the papyrus plant, from scratch. It’s quite a unique thing to have. Make sure that you buy them from a proper shop as they tend to be original as compared to those sold by the hawkers.
Other than these few options, other things I was suggested to do in Luxor were:
- Hot air balloon ride at Sunrise overlooking the Nile
- Short boat trip in the Nile to enjoy the sunset
- Shopping in the local markets