Abu Simbel Sun Festival
Temples of Abu Simbel
Temples of Abu Simbel is the sole reason for which tourists from all over get attracted to this part of Egypt. Built by King Ramses II, the temples of Abu Simbel are touted to be the most impressive one. The Sun temple, located on the banks of River Nile, was built in 1250 BC and is carved into the sandstone cliffs. The seated Ramses statue of 65 feet is the temple’s main attraction. There are two temples, one of Ramses and second for his queen Nefertiti. The extraordinary beauty and grandeur of the temple is simply spell bounding. The temple remained hidden from the world until 1812, when the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt found it. In 1964, the temple was conserved to protect from the rising waters of the High Aswan Dam. The entire site was dismantled and moved to a place 65 m higher and 200 m back of the river, where the structure was reassembled again.
The 108 feet high statues of Ramses on the entrance way, leading to a grand hall separated into two treasury rooms is the first thing that any person will notice in the temple. Further inside is the Hypostyle Hall filled with flowered pillars and scenes of the family of the king. The monument is a memory of Ramses II’s victory in the Battle of Kadesh, which is believed to have taken place in 1274 BCE, between Egyptians and Anatolians which includes part of modern day Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. It’s said that the temple took about twenty years to get built.
The world-famous Sun Festival at Abu Simbel
The Sun Festival at Abu Simbel Temple, which remains in darkness all through the year, sees the stream of natural sunlight only on two occasions every year, which are in the months of February and October. The light which streams into the complex reflects on Ramses II and Sun God’s seated statues, illuminating the entire place highlighting the brilliant architecture of the place. The statue that remains still in darkness, even on these two days is of Ptah, the Goddess of darkness. The sight is truly a marvelous one and attracts tourists from all across to celebrate the much-celebrated Sun Festival.
The significance of Sun Festival
Ramses built the temple at Abu Simbel, so that the sanctum sanctorum or the inner chamber would light up at just two times of the year, which is on 22nd February, the anniversary of his ascension to the throne and on October 22nd, which is his birthday. The festival is based on a solar phenomenon, and the Sun God being very important to Egyptians, careful planning was required to ensure everything was aligned just right.
Getting to Abu Simbel
Most say that getting to Abu Simbel is no less than an adventure ride and a vehicle convoy starts after meeting in Aswan at 12 am. The convoy travels together across the open desert and is escorted by military, every bus has an armed officer accompanying. Seeing the past ambushing of buses by terrorists group, military’s control seems important. The trip is of three hours after which tourists reach Abu Simbel near the Sudan border.
Celebrations during Sun Festival
During Sun Festival large crowd gathers around the temple to witness sunrise and to meditate. After seeing the spectacular solar phenomenon and having a good look at the statutes, tourists can then participate in the dance and singing shows. The festival can be a fun-filled one for any person to enjoy music, dance, food, drinking, markets and much more. When here, it’s always advised to eat the local cuisine platter, which is enough to give any taste bud a treat.
Sun festival as a tourism booster
On the two days of the year, that are 22nd February and exactly 8 months later, 22nd October, the Tourism sector in Egypt sees the coming of many visitors, flocking from all across the globe. Witnessing this phenomenon is a feast, considering the knowledge of astronomy and technology that ancient Egyptians used for making such construction and event possible.
Ministry of Tourism, during the festival teams with the people of Aswan to make arrangements and everything is ensured where tourists can get entertained and can come to celebrate the unique solar phenomenon, which can give any person an experience of a lifetime.
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