When in Egypt, one sees many incredible temples and risks the widespread disease of temple fatigue. I, however, was not inflicted by this common ailment and will continue to search the world for the most unique and awe-inspiring temples. Egypt has the second largest temple in the world after Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which I saw last year. I will have to research the third largest and head there next.
Meanwhile, I will start with the second largest and my favourite Egyptian temple:
This temple was immense, atmospheric and beautiful. Definitely my favourite. It was started around 2000 BC and was still being added to in 100 BC by Cleopatra. This temple can be seen in various movies as it typifies an Egyptian temple.
Cut into the rock face, this enormous structure was raised 61meters to save it from the flooding by the artificial lake , Lake Nassar, created by the Aswan High Dam. The 20 meter high statues represent RamsesII, known as the great builder. He ruled Egypt from 1290 - 1224 BC. Next to it is the smaller temple built for his favourite wife, Nefertari.
More amazing than this surprisingly intact temple with its clear drawings and beautiful colours, was the four-year process which saw the temple saved from the encroaching waters. Many nations came together to save this truly precious piece of ancient history.
Reaching this temple required a three-hour bus trip from Aswan in a convoy with a military escort. These stretches of bleak desert are the ideal spots for terrorist attacks. No one has forgotten the 1997 attack at my next temple.
This amazing temple is built up against a cliff face out in the desert - a hot, sandy desert which saps your energy and causes copious outpourings of liquid from the body. There's no need for a toilet because it's virtually impossible to replace the fluids fast enough to counter the perspiration. Did you know you can perspire from your eyelids? While I was there, Egypt was gripped by a heat wave and we often reached temperatures in the mid to high 50's (centigrade.) This is the temple where terrorists killed 48 tourists in 1997. When chased by the locals, they then killed themselves. I kept a keen eye out over the cliffs for any untoward movements in our direction.
We stopped at this temple on the banks of the Nile while cruising between Luxor and Aswan. It was in a particularly picturesque setting and worth the risk of a heat stroke. This temple is dedicated to two gods, Horus and Sobek. Sobek, the crocodile god, was much needed in this spot as the river here was noted for crocodiles until early this century.
5) Philae Temple
This temple was also saved from the raised level of the river caused by the Aswan Dam. It now sits on an island in the Nile. The deeply etched carvings and drawings on the walls and ceilings of all these temples depict the life and death journey of the Pharoahs. Only the high priests and the Pharoahs were allowed into the inner sanctum of these temples and I often wondered at the egoism involved in such a decision. Like all religious buildings present and past, they represent man's desperate need to believe in life after death - the need to conquer the fear of death.