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The High Dam of Aswan (Egypt)

The Aswan Dam across the Nile in Aswan is an embankment dam built between the 1960-70s. The construction of the dam had a huge impact on the economy of Egypt as it was able to control flooding and provide water necessary for irrigation.  Before the dam was constructed, the annual flooding of the Nile used to wreak havoc. Nile is responsible for bringing in the fertile soil to the lower part of the valley. When the flooding was bad, the crops used to be destroyed ad when the water was less droughts and famine happened. Since the construction of the dam things have changed. Now, water is stored in the reservoir and released as per the need.

The reservoir is called Lake Nasser and is approximately 550kms long. It is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. The lake gets its name from Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, the second President of Egypt and one of the leaders of the 1952 Egyptian Revolution.

The dam also generates hydroelectricity and provides electricity to a substantial area of Egyptian villages.

From the tourist point of view, there is nothing much to see. Yes, the dam offers some good views of the Lake Nasser. It is associated with an interesting bit of history and is an impressive feat of engineering. Tours usually stop here for about 20 minutes or so - giving you enough time to take some photographs. Videography is not allowed.


The Colossi of Memnon in Luxor, Egypt

Reaching 60 feet into the sky, the two gigantic statues of Amenhotep III collectively referred to as the Colossi of Memnon are a major attraction on the West Bank of Luxor. The two statues have stood in the same place for the last 3400 years :)

The statues are of Amenhotep III (the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty) and depict him in a seated position. There are 2 smaller figures carved onto the same rock along Amenhotep's legs. These smaller figures are those of his mother and his wife.

When the 2 statues were carved out, they were created with the purpose of guarding the entrance to Amenhotep's mortuary temple. Being so close to the Nile, several inundations resulted in practically all of the temple being destroyed. What remains today of the temple complex are just these 2 statues both of which are badly damamged.

The legend on how they got their name is interesting. Sometime in 27BC, there was a big earthquake which damaged parts of the eastern colossus. And from then on, an hour or two after sunrise, the statue used to 'sing' or 'whistle'. Various theories have been put forward about the reason for this sound. The statues were named 'Memnon' after was an Ethiopian King and a hero of the Trojan War - 'Memnon' who was the son of Tithonus and Eos. Memnon means - The Ruler of Dawn. The statues were probably given this name because tey used to 'sing' only at dawn.

The statues are free to visit and there is nothing to see other than these 2 colossal structures. Of course, that doesnt mean that its not worth visiting. It absolutely is - just to see and appreciate the massive structures in the middle of the desert. If you are on a guided tour, your coach or car driver will stop here for 10-15 minutes giving you enough time to take some pictures. The Deir el-Bahari or Temple of Hatshepsut is nearby.

Nightlife in Hurghada

Hurgahda is becoming a major beach resort with tourists from all over the world heading there to enjoy its charms. While day time is spent on the beach, come evening and most tourists head to one or the other club or disco. There are numerous clubs and discos in Hurghada, with almost evey hotel having its own disco. You can go disco hopping until you locate one that interests you. SOme of the famous discos/clubs are: Papas Beach Club, Calypso Disco, Hard Rock Cafe and Ministry of Sound. Alternately you can just stroll around the local markets and take in the beautiful sights on offer.


Top 8 things to do in Cairo

One of the main landmarks in Cairo is the Mosque of Muhammad Ali or the Albaster Mosque. The mosque situated atop the citadel was built in the memory of Tusun Pasha, the oldest son of Muhammad Ali. The mosque has a large central dome and four small circular domes which are surrounded by four semi-circualr domes. There are 2 minarets built in the Turkish style. The mosque was built with limestone but some parts of it are tiled with Albaster and hence it is often referred to as the Albaster Mosque.

With around 1.2 lakh items, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is the largest museum in Egypt. It is also called as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Not all items are on display though because of the lack of space. A new museum big enough to house all the items is currently being built. The current museum is located in Tahir Square. The current museum has two floors with the lower floor mainly for the large statues while the upper floor has the smaller items like jewellery, weapons, small statues and the mummies.

Old Cairo is that part of Cairo which contains the remnants of old cities that were capitals before Cairo. This part of the city is home to many tourist attractions like the Hanging Church(El Muallaqa), the Coptic Museum and the remains of an old Roman Fortress.

A place not to be missed while in Cairo are the Pyramids. Though it tends to get too crowded and over-touristy, it is not be missed because of its grandeur. Its amazing how these amazing structures were built back in those days. If you happen to visit it in the evening, you can enjoy the Sound and Light show.

A mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human, Sphinx has always been a fascination to me. And on our recent visit to Egypt, had the chance to see the Great Sphinx of Giza. Although there are many sphinxes in Egypt, the most famous and most visited I think is the Great Sphinx of Giza.

The Stepped Pyramid or the Pyramid of Djoser is located in the Saqqara necropolis. The pyramid was built in 2630 BC by Imhotep for the Pharaoh - Djoser. Imhotep was the chancellor during the reign of King Djoser and was the one who designed the pyramid earning him the honour of being the first architect in early history.

Done with the sightseeing and ready for some retail therapy? It is your turn to head to the Mall of Arabia, which is a huge shopping mall with a diverse selection of stores for all your shopping needs. It is called the largest mall in Cairo for a reason - it's huge and the mall is only half-way constructed. A must visit if you like shopping and eating out. You can do your shopping and grab your meal in one of the many restaurants in the open courtyard. Overall, its a modern happening mall with something for everyone's tastes. Do visit it.

And if you like traditional markets more then head to the Khan el-Khalili market, which will transport you to an era back in time. Located in the heart of Islamic Cairo, this open air market is always busy, lively and very colourful. It is the best place to pick up souvenirs, jewellery, traditional clothing or perfumes. Crowd and chaos are its trademarks and you will be hassled everywhere you go. The shopkeeprs will try to lure you into their shops and be aware that they do not give up easily. Bargaining is like a game - you vs the shopkeeper. Enjoy it and make a deal which will leave both of you happy.