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Pole to Pole

Day 57: Luxor

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAn early start to catch the sunrise over the ruins of the Temple of Karnak. The name is taken from the town of Carnac in Brittany and is a reminder that it was the French who, in 1798, rediscovered this temple under thirty feet of sand. We have a local Egyptologist with us who has obtained permission for us to climb up onto one of the pylons - the massive 150-foot high towers that flank the entrance to the temple. This involves a scramble up a narrow passageway enclosed between the tomb of Seti II and the pylon wall. We must have disturbed a colony of bats, for the dark tunnel is suddenly filled with flapping creatures trying to find a way out. My hat is knocked off as they brush my face. At the top, the view is splendid but the sunrise isn't and the crew return to our boat for breakfast. I decide to stay in the temple and enjoy some pre-tourist solitude.

The buildings and the monuments here are as impressive as any man-made thing I have seen in the world. They were created to extol the power and strength of the Pharaohs and the gods whose likenesses they were, and it is impossible to walk amongst the columns and beside the obelisks and not feel the presence of this power. In the Hypostyle Hall, where 134 columns rise in a symbolic forest, sixty feet high, from bases whose circumference could just be contained within a ring of twelve people with outstretched arms, I feel a sense of awe and wonder unlike any I've experienced before, compounded by the awareness that similar feelings must have been experienced here over thousands of years.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 57
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Luxor
  • Book page no: 124

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