The Temple of Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel Temple

Man are to be blamed for sabotaging our heritage, but its man only who is appraised for its hard work for restoration and keeping the head high of country with preservation of Heritage.

When the High Aswan Dam was supposed to be constructed, the architectural marvel and phenomenon temples were in danger of drowning with river washing away the heritage and monuments. If man is destroyer, he is creator also, this can be said in the sense that all temples were dismantled and relocated in 1968. On the desert plateau the temples were relocated at some 200 feet above and some 600 feet west side of from their original location. This reconstruction is in itself an historic event in itself, a rhetoric answer as how man is responsible for all.

On the western bank of Nile, the site known as Meha in ancient time is Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel was first accounted by J. L. Burckhardt in 1813. What he saw then, over the mountain was only the facade of the grand temple covered deeply in sand, as they were when Burckhardt found them. It was while he was preparing to leave via the Nile. There are two temples, one is of Ramesses II which is primarily dedicated to Re-Harakhte, and other one is of his wife Nefertari which is dedicated to Hathor. Burckhardt said “was the most expressive, youthful countenance, approaching nearer to the Grecian model of beauty than that of any ancient Egyptian figure I have seen.”

On the west bank of the Nile at Abu Simbel is the greatest of rock cut temple of Ramesses II, called “the Great,” built seven rock- cut. The temple is called Hwt Ramesses Meryamun, which means the “Temple of Ramesses, beloved of Amun”. The massive fascia of the main temple is four seated gigantic statues of Ramesses, of some 67 feet high and all are seated on a throne wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt all sculpted from the rock face only. The thrones of these statues are denoting the symbolic unity of Egypt with decorations of Nile Gods. Ancient earthquake though have damaged the statue and one of them is demolished from the waist up. There are other two massive colossus with smaller statues of relatives-Queen Nefretari, the king’s mother, the great wife of king Seti I, Muttuya , Prince Amenhirkhopshef, Princess Bent’anta, Princess Nebettawyby and Esenofre. Beneath giant sculptures are carved figures of bound captives.

The forecourt fronted the temple has two tanks which are for the ablutions of the priests. The northern side of terrace has an undersized sun-chapel, and in south, there stood chapel of the god Thoth. At the entrance, there is a figure above which is of the falcon-headed sun-god Ra along with flanking images of Ramesses worshipping the god. At the top of the temple fascia, there are statues of row of baboons in adoring position, said to welcome the rising sun.

In the temple there is a sanctuary which contains a small altar with rear niche of four statues. These cult statues represent Ramesses II himself, along with the three state gods of the New Kingdom, Ptah of Memphis, Ra-Horakhty of Heliopolis and Amun-Ra of Thebes. Before the statues rests a block upon this would have rested the sacred barque itself.

In the north of main temple there in lies a second smaller temple, which was built in honor of Ramesses’ great wife Nefertari, and also in the honor of the goddess Hathor. Like in Ramesses’ own temple, the cliff facade was cut back to look like sloping walls of a pylon. There are six enormous standing figures 33 feet high, in which the four are of Ramesses and two are of Nefertari, also cut from the rock face, and also present are smaller figures of their royal family. There is an Egyptian inscription over the entrance which reads “Ramesses II, he has made a temple, excavated in the mountain, of eternal workmanship, for the chief queen Nefertari, beloved of Mu, in Nubia, forever and ever, Nefertari for whose sake the very sun does shine.” This temple is not to be confused with the striking Tomb of Nefertari which is in the Valley of Queens near Thebes.

There is something absolutely amazing enigma and charm about these temples and if you are cruising Nile or having beach resort holiday visiting these temples is must.


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