Egypt Diary

Chapter One

Egypt had been in my bucket list for a long time. I just did not realize that we will visit it so soon.

After a 3 1/2 hour early morning flight on a Saturday, we reached Dubai. There was a brief halt of 2 hours and then we boarded our next flight to Cairo. It took another 3 hours of flying and we reached Cairo in the early evening.

Our pick up car was there with a guide who helped us get through the immigration and customs and dropped us at our Hotel, Hilton Ramses. There was a lot of traffic on the way and the ride took almost an hour although the hotel was only 1/2 hour away. The hotel reception was very quite busy and it took us quite some time to check in.

After almost 12 hours of flying and lounging at the airport we finally hit the bed early that night as our city tour was to start really early the next day.

Egypt actually turned out to be really opposite of what we were told about it. The city and Nile river below our hotel looked beautiful in the morning from our 18th floor window.

Egypt or the Arab Republic of Egypt is surrounded by Sudan, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, although the last two do not have a land border with it. It is the most populous country in North Africa with 9.5 million people of which 2 million live in Cairo alone.

Bulk of the country’s population lives along the Nile river as the rest of the country is a desert.  The areas around the Nile are quite green, something we did not expect to see. They grow a kind of grass called Clover right next to the canals, which jet out of Nile. This is used as fodder for the camels and donkeys. Apart from it the main agriculture produce are Barley, Wheat, Sugarcane, Figs, Melons, Olives and Pomegranates.

There is a lot of agricultural activity around the canals originating from the Nile.
The ancient burial site of Egyptians, the step pyramid.
Gigantic pillars in the tomb.
The Step Pyramid.

Our next day started with a visit of Saqqara region, the ancient burial ground of Egypt where we saw Djoser’s Step Pyramids. Different kings chose different sites for their Pyramids as Saqqara was the royal burial ground. Though the step Pyramid is made of stones the others, Pyramid of Unas and Userhaf are made of a core consisting of rubble. Extensive restoration work is going on in this site.

Pyramids of Unas and Userhaf have been damaged and are being restored.
Pyramids of Unas and Userhaf have been damaged and are being restored.
Only this remains out of a once beautiful statues of the King, Queen and their children.
Damaged statues.

From here we moved to the south to the city of Dahshur where the first Pyramids were built by Shepseshaf. It is here that the ancient Egyptians mastered their art of building Pyramids from step pyramids to smooth-sided ones. King Sneferu built the bent pyramid here and learning from his mistakes his son, Khufu built his pyramid in Giza. From Dahshur, we headed for an Egyptian lunch and after that to Giza.

The pyramid at Dahshur.

The Giza Pyramid is the oldest and the only surviving ancient wonder of the world. King Menes founded a unified kingdom in 3150 B C which ruled Egypt for three millennia via a series of dynasties. Among them the third and fourth dynasties constructed many pyramids, with the fourth dynasty constructing the Pyramids of Giza.

The Khufu Pyramid is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the complex in Giza. Based on the artifacts and writing discovered there, it is believed that it was built over  a period of 10-20 years. For over 3800 years, it is the tallest man-made structure in the world.

It was initially covered by stone casing with a smooth surface, some of which can be still seen lying there. Inside the pyramid there are three chambers, for the King, the Queen and an unfinished chamber.

Pyramids of Giza.
The Sphinx.
Our camel ride.

While on a camel ride these three pyramids appear to be like a fairy tale structures right before you. Another structure there is of Sphinx, a mythical creature with a head of a human and a body of the lion. It is believed that those who cannot answer its riddles are killed and eaten by it.

With this the day came to an end and we headed back to the hotel.

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