The previous day we checked into the cruise and during the day went to see Aswan’s tourist attractions. Late in the night the cruise began its journey from Aswan to Luxor sailing through the Nile River and along the way stopped at various ancient sites, which I think is the most beautiful and unique part of the Nile cruise tour.
The excursions generally take place early in the morning before it’s too hot and busy. Afternoons we spent relaxing on the sun deck and marveling at views of Nile river, there is something so serene, so soothing about it – which has been silently flowing for thousands of years with all the history stacked at its lush green banks.
Early morning views of Nile River from the cruise
Lush green banks of Nile River
We made our first stop early in the morning at Kom Ombo Temple. It stands on the east bank of the Nile and was dedicated two Gods, Horus and Sobik. The temple date backs to 119 BC and was built in Greco-roman style. The temple was mainly dedicated to God Sobik, the crocodile God, along with his wife Goddess Hathor. On the other side, the temple was dedicated to God Hours the elder, God of victory, here Horus was known as a doctor. It was a major pilgrimage site and a sanctuary for many patients, seeking treatment by the priests.
Temple of Kom Ombo
First pylon (columns) in ruins
Parts of the temple tower still standing
Hallway leading to one of the inner sanctum which is also in ruins
Carvings on the temple walls
Most of the temple - the first pylon and inner sanctum of the temple are in ruins and only foundation stones & part of the walls remain. This temple is different from other ancient sites in that - the main forecourt at the entrance is divided into two gateways, with each leading to one half of the temple dedicated to each of the twin deities.
Out of many cravings on the temple walls two notable ones are - list of calendars with various festivals dedicated to various gods, which shows Egyptian way of tracking time, seasons and so on. Secondly the illustrations of medical and surgical tools that were used in those times, which shows Egyptians were advanced even in the field of medical science.
Though it is mainly in ruins this temple is a must see to appreciate how old these temples really are and then when these are compared to some preserved temples, one can understand how difficult it is to maintain these ancient sites.
Our next stop for the day was a couple of hours later at the Temple of Edfu. Edfu was a flourishing city but in current day there is nothing much to see except the temple dedicated to God Horus, which is one of the beautiful and well preserved temple. This temple is not on the banks of Nile and we had to take a horse cart through the narrow alleys of this ancient city.
Temple of Edfu - Pylon decorated with battle scenes
On both sides of the entrance stands a statue of God Horus of Behdet, which is in shape of a falcon
Two consecutive vestibules, the outer one is called the hall of the offerings. The inner vestibule was where the statue was housed.
Palanquin used in the temple rituals
On the various walls of the temple, there are many battle scenes, ritual of the temple, divine marriage of Hathor and Horus etc depicted.
The construction of this temple dates back to around 237 BC and took around 180 years to complete with various additions, cravings etc. The temple complex is huge and the sanctuary is surrounded by 12 rooms from the outside. Some of these rooms were used as storerooms while the others were dedicated for different religious purposes. This temple is intact and not ruined like most other temples maybe because it is not on the banks of Nile.
Later in the evening, the cruise held Egyptian night, with local food and musical performances. There were traditional songs and dance in which the cruise guests were involved. It was interesting and fun though there were language barriers one could understand, or appreciate the language of music and get a sense of the Egyptian culture.
Cruises lined up on the Nile River
Views of Sailing boats on the Nile River
Quick Review of Nile Cruise
• Though the Nile river cruise cannot be compared to a sea cruise, I think, the major attraction is visiting the ancient sites and watching the Nile passing by, from the Sun deck. The contrast is quite striking in the views – the lush green banks of Nile River and beyond the banks its desert sand and dry.
• Though we were vegetarians we had enough options (in spite of not having any Indian cuisine) on the menu and enjoyed the food.
• It is customary to tip the crew and guides at the end of the cruise.