Abu Simbel is a beautiful place consisting of two rock temples which are carved into the mountainside. Abu Simbel is situated in Upper Egypt in a village called Nubia, which is near to the border with northern Sudan. It is located on the bank of the lake Nasser in the west which is about 230 km in the southwest from Aswan.
If you are planning to visit Abu Simbel, it will be the most exclusive site ever witnessed. This place has unique importance and style in terms of being a masterpiece of ancient Egypt. This is also called “Nubian Monuments” and a part of UNESCO World Heritage site. It was located on the bank of the Nile River between first and second cataracts in the west for over 3000 years. In1960, it was rebuilt on the higher hill because the Aswan High Dam was in its way which is a remarkable feat of engineering. These two temples on the mountainside consist of four colossal statues where Ramses II used to sit and it was built in 1244 B.C. The strength and weakness of Egypt can be tracked by the relation of Egypt with Nubia. Egypt got extended and influenced by Nubia when there were strong kings ruled the land. It was debilitated when the Aswan border was set apart with southern Egypt.
The Great Temple
The Great temple which is also known as “A Temple of Ramses II” consists of four statues which are erected at the entrance of the main elevation. These statues depict the rulers wearing the double crown, engraved with false and cobra beard, names headdress and a short kilt. After that their small statues represent the relatives of the pharaoh’s which also include his mother, wife, sons, and daughter. At the top of the temple, there is a Baboon statue. The mannequin of Abu Simbel temple is built in a way that its entrance is about 69 feet high in the carved mountainside. The room consists of 8 pillars and its atrium projecting the battle of Qadesh’s victory of Ramses II with images and hieroglyphs on each side of the atrium. There are empty storerooms too.
The Small Temple
The small temple is also a magnificent piece of work that was built for the Queen Nefertari. It consists of four statues of the king and two of the queen. In between each of the buttresses and with hieroglyphs carved, all of them are 33 feet tall in height. This temple also contains statues of the children and there is another thing which is noticeable that the statue of the princess is much taller than the prince. Basically, this temple gives tribute to the women of households and to Nefertari. All those sites were built by the rulers of Egypt and still, there is connectivity of these with modern Egypt. In ancient times, this place was considered as part of Nubia.
Moving of the temple
Abu Simbel is surviving through ancient times in the modern era. Because the river Nile was rising and the site could be flooded. So, that was the time of moving of the temple and to build a new high dam “Aswan” in the 1960s. Then the temple was rebuilt on the plateau desert in 1968 which was 600 feet west from the previous site 200 feet above. Moving of the temple was a great piece of art and a very difficult job too. It was cut into 3 pieces, each of 20 tons; then was rejoined precisely as before. About three thousand workers were involved in that task and the cost was about $45 million. It was a massive job and took almost 5 years.
The illumination of the Sun on the Temple
This is the most important and big event of Abu Simbel. Throughout the whole year, the inner of the temple at Abu Simbel remains in darkness but on February 22nd and October 22nd; these two days of the year, the illumination of the sun on the temple rises at the entrance of the temple into the inner sanctuary and lights up the pharaoh as well as the three seated statues on the bench. This phenomenon lasts for 20 minutes and starts at 6:25 am. These are the days when thousands of the tourists come to Abu Simbel temple to watch this spectacle in which the sun is on the King Ramses II face. People think that these two days are linked with the birth and coronation. February 22nd is celebrated as the king’s birthday and 22nd October as the coronation. On this day, the sunlight comes to the gods Amun-Ra and Ra-Horakhte and also to the King Ramses II.
Other places to visit in Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is one of the marvellous places on the planet. There are many other places to visit in Abu Simbel which are delightful. Places to visit like you can have a Felucca ride on the Nile in Aswan, it a beautiful calming ride on a sailboat with a cool fresh breeze which takes you to the Gardens of Botanical. Moreover, you can also enjoy the sound and light show at Philae Temple where you will also experience life a thousand years ago. Aswan also contains a temple of Unfinished Obelisk where you will see the ancient Egyptians work and art of big stones and pillars. You will also see the high dam located at Lake Nasser. A tour to the “Place Bird Watchers” is a superb place where you can have a ride in felucca which is around the cataract Islands. There are many species of birds in this Iceland with the delightful environment of flora and fauna. Another place to visit is Simeon Monastery before it was named as “AnbaHatre” which was built in the 11th century and considered as the oldest building in Egypt, it is located at the southern side of Elephantine Island.