Friday, January 30, 2009

Travel: Pharoahs and fantasy in Egypt

The Economic Times (Anita Limaye)

Our short drive to Memphis from Giza gave us a pretty good picture of Cairo - a very crowded city, just like our own Indian metros! We crossed the Nile once again and entered what seemed to be a huge palm tree forest. We learnt from our guide that Memphis is a Greek word derived from the Egyptian word 'Men-fer' meaning 'stable' and 'pretty'.

'Stable' was pretty accurate as Memphis stayed at the centre of Egypt's word right till the era of the Pharaohs, including the New Kingdom when Ramses II increased its splendour. It was one of the largest and the most beautiful cities in the East, surrounded by an enchanting landscape. Successive wars, invasions and the annual Nile flooding eroded the city till one day it was wiped out, leaving for posterity just tantalising remnants of its grandeur.

The main attraction in Memphis is the grand colossus of Ramses II which stands 12 metres long and is now in an open-air museum along with several other beautiful statues and sarcophagi. This statue, carved from a single block of stone and currently kept in a horizontal position, isn't remarkable merely for its size. The intricacy of its detailing is truly mindboggling.

See the above page for the full story.

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