This account of my day at Karnak temple will begin with what I’ll be doing this Easter. Yes, this Easter I am going to spend some days in Egypt and I hope to visit some of the places in this country that featured in the Bible. These days, people get scared away from Egypt because of ‘inflated’ reports about terrorist attack. My question has always been, “after the Paris attack in 2015, have people stopped visiting Paris?” It’s quite easy to use a single experience to label a place but that is wrong. As a friend once told me, if you are destined to die, then you’ll die—whether you travel or not. That much is true!
Anyway, I’ll be going with a tour guide who knows Egypt like the back of his palm and he has promised to keep me off danger zone if any exists and that’s cool by me and I’ll advise anyone visiting to consider doing the same—a few bucks for safety is worth it no doubt.
This trip will be my second to Egypt in the last one year. On my first trip mid-last year, I visited Thebes—I prefer the name Thebes to Luxor though the former is merely a part of the later. I am an historian and a writer so the visit was for me a teleporting into ancient past. I loved this place; the picturesque and incredible monuments there speak of man’s infinite capabilities and—unfortunately though, unabashed craving for immortality. The temples, monument and valleys justify Luxor’s appellation as the site of the world’s largest open-air museum.
The main attraction I had in mind while on the train from Cairo was the Karnak Temple and that was where I went to instantly on arrival at Luxor—after sorting basic logistics though.
The Karnak is a legendary complex, it most have been the biggest religious complex in the world at a time. Its nearly one mile by half a mile (1.5 kilometers by 800 meters) space will take ten cathedrals todays. Equally massive are the monuments at Karnak. Take the Hatshepsut’s obelisk towers for instance; it stands 90 feet (27.5 meters). The other massive assemblage of structures, columns, and statuary are simply awe-inspiring.
Karnak is built into a series of gates and public spaces. A series of Rams-Headed Sphinxes with their chins resting on an image of Ramses II held between their paws flank either sides of the ancient path that leads into the first gate of the temple. The entrance is huge, in fact, simply oversized; it suggests that the builders intended that visitors should have an awe feeling on arrival. How that feeling still grips guests till date is something that marvels me.
The most recognizable monument in Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall. It covers about 5,000sq meters and is filled with 134 gigantic stone columns with 12 larger columns standing 80 feet (24 m) high lining the central aisle. These massive columns dwarf anyone there. The remains of painting inside the hall suggests how well decorated the site must have been in it glorious days.
Our guide told us that the massive assemblage of structures, columns, and statuary were tributes to four different gods. He said it was believed that god in fact lived there. “The ancient Egyptians must have believed that god was incredibly big and needed massive space and effigies,” I thought.