Explore the Awe-inspiring Sun Festival in South Egypt

The Sun Festival takes place every year in February and October at the exquisite Abu Simbel Temple in Aswan in Southern Egypt to celebrate the life of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh ‘Ramses II’

The Sun Festival held at Abu Simbel Temple in Aswan in Southern Egypt celebrates the life of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh ‘Ramses II’ and happens to be an awe inspiring event that amazes all, who get an opportunity to experience it. Built by Ramses II the exquisite temple of Abu Simbel in Aswan was dedicated to the Sun Gods ‘Re-Harkhti’ and ‘Amen-Re’. The temple was also meant to celebrate every year the two most important occasions in the life of the Pharaoh Ramses II himself, one being his own Birthday on October 22nd and other being the Day of his Coronation on February 22nd that continues to be celebrated till date, since the past 3,200 years at the Temple of Abu Simbel.

This exotic temple bestows in itself a unique architectural marvel wherein the temple is angled in such a way that on these two days in the months of October and February at the break of dawn, a distinct stream of light gradually pierces the gloom inside the temple and illuminates the statuettes of ‘Ramses-II’ along with the statues of Sun Gods ‘Re-Harkhti’ and ‘Amen-Re’ sitting beside him in the Santorum and this enlightenment is commemorated in Egypt as the Sun festival!

People from across the world gather around the Abu Simbel Temple in months of February and October every year to see the sunrise and also the statues inside the temple getting illuminated by the rising sun on these two days around the year. The assembled people often meditate during the wee hours around the temple. It is interesting to note that the main temple remains dark all through the year, but the statues get illuminated by the rising sun on just these two days around the year. One definitely wonders about the fact that The God of Darkness, ‘Ptah’ who sits besides the Sun Gods and ‘Ramses- II’ still remains in dark throughout the year and he is still exempted from the enlightenment.

The temple of Abu Simbel happens to be one of the largest rock cut temples in Egypt and was built out of carving the Sandstone Mountains besides the Nile River. As per the Egyptian belief these mountains were considered the abode of the Sun deities, who emerged from the earth creating a bulge in the otherwise flat land, where the temples were later constructed. The temple stands 100 feet tall and displays exquisitely carved 4 statues of Ramses each 66 feet high that guards the entrance and includes statues of t h e p h a r a o h ’s family members namely his favorite wife Nefertiti, his mother and his son Prince Amonherkhepshef.

Things to do in Aswan and Abu Simbel
Witness the Sound and Light Extravaganza at Abu Simbel
For all those who still want to experience the galore of the enchanting temples in Abu-Simbel, they must watch the wonderful sound and light show at night played 3 times daily at 6, 7 and 8 pm. Be the part of the masterful spectacle to visualize the great facades of the Abu Simbel temple endowed with enthralling light, sound and visual effects complementing with inspiring narrations, taking you back to the era of Ramses and the great Egyptian history thousands of Explore the Awe Aspiring Sun Festival in South Egypt The Sun Festival takes place every year in February and October at the exquisite Abu Simbel Temple in Aswan in Southern Egypt to celebrate the life of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh ‘Ramses II’ vBYPRIYAANKAA MATHUR DESTINATION 38 TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY | OC T O B E R 20 1 5 years ago. The show is scripted in 9 languages English, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, and Chinese and Japanese; one can choose the language as per convenience.

Enjoy local Egyptian Culture and Cuisines
After taking a good look at the Abu Simbel, one can enjoy Egyptian folklore, dances and singing by the local troupes. Not to miss the mouth watering local Egyptian cuisines like – Ful Medames (mashed fava beans), Kushari – a mixture of rice, macaroni and lentils or the Falafel an original Egyptian delight. For all those who are fond of alcohol will have a tough time to find one, as alcohol is not widely drunk in Egypt it being a Muslim country. While the teetotalers, can definitely enjoy varieties of flavored tea along with the typical Egyptian or Arabic coffee.

Sail through the Nile
Aswan happens to be an oasis-kind-of-place with a subtropical desert climate. Best time to reach Abu Simbel is October-May. One can spend a day to a week in Aswan and Abu Simbel depending on the variety of activities one intends to explore. Enjoy the felucca sailing down the Nile River south from Luxor. Explore the journey on the Nile that is sometimes, curvy, sometimes calm yet attractive facing the desert deep down the opposite bank.

Excavate through the monuments
If you have boarded the luxurious Nile cruise, stop over a couple of wonderful, monumental temples on the way – ‘Edfu’ and ‘Kom Ombo’. Across the Nile visit Aswan’s major highlight the ‘Elephantine Island’ that is known for its colorful mud –brick houses and palm tree plantations. For the history buffs Aswan’s Southern end boasts of its oldest civilization ‘Ruins of Abu’, the ‘Aswan Museum’, ‘Temple of khnum’ and the ‘Temple of Satet’ can be of prime interest.

Aswan do stores its ‘Nilometer’ –the ancient stone hewn wells for the science enthusiasts who would be interested to know h ow Egyptians controlled floods by measuring the rise and fall of water levels in the Nile River and thus predicted the relative success in harvest. Visit the Aswan’s botanical garden also known as ‘Kitchener’s Island’ that boasts of exotic plant varieties collected from across Asian and African regions.

Travel and Accommodation in Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is located about 290 kms southwest from Aswan in the middle of a desert. There are three ways to communicate to Abu-Sambel. One can board flights from Cairo to Aswan Airport, since there are no direct flights to Abu Simbel. From Aswan airport one can further travel by bus to the temple. If you love to travel by road, take a bus trip to explore the desert to the full. Honeymooners and luxury travelers can take the 4- 5 days on ‘The Nile cruise’ floating over Lake Naseer from Aswan to Abu Simbel. Book your trip to Abu Simbel through small or mid-range hotels that work on collaborative arrangement to organize travel to the temple for their guests in single vans or buses that turns out to be more cost effective. Whichever mode of travel you choose Abu Simbel is worth the trip.

It is impossible to comprehend human creation at Abu Simbel as it is astonishing to know that the temple does not sit today in its original location. The temple suffered serious risks of getting drowned in 1960s due to the rising waters of the lake Nasser. Thus the expert members from (UNESCO) in collaboration with Egyptian architects orchestrated a massive relocation project that moved the temple 690 feet away from its original site. Piece by piece the craftsmen removed the massive stones carefully reassembling them on a new cement and steel mountain that was safe from the water’s edge. However the project could not restore the exact precise orientation of the monument and resulted into a shift in the days of illumination that now occurs on 21st of February and 21st of October every year.

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