Travel to the Land of Mysteries: Cairo, Egypt

Posted on July 22, 2010 in Travel

By Tejasvi Tandon:

The first thing you notice when you land in the beautiful city of cairo is the amazing clash of culture. New Cairo v/s Old Cairo, you can make out the old structures from their British-Victorian architecture. The city somehow absorbs all of this and moves on unfazed. It has massive traffic jams just like we have here in Bombay and if you don’t give people a second glance you’d be surprised by how it feels just like home.

A few things do help the city to stand out. They are three structures just off the main city, across the famous Nile River, on the Giza Plateau. Yes the monuments that have stood like a testament to time itself, the pyramids.

The Pyramid trio across River Nile

The first sights of the pyramids leave you awestruck. First their sheer size and secondly the fact that for the last 3,800 years it has been the tallest structure on Earth. The pyramids were built during a 15-20 year period where many thousands of slaves were used to pull the heavy 3 ton slabs of granite that make up the, now exposed, interior core. The outer surface was covered with casing stones, which left it with a smooth exterior. Some of this is still seen towards the tip of the pyramids.

The mass of the pyramid is estimated at 5.9 million tonnes. The volume, including an internal hillock, is roughly 2,500,000 cubic meters. Based on these estimates, building this in 20 years would involve installing approximately 800 tonnes of stone every day. Alternatively looking at the construction from another angle, since the Great Pyramid consists of an estimated 2.3 million blocks, completing the building in 20 years would involve moving little more than 12 of the blocks in place each hour, day and night, during the 20 year period. The first precision measurements of the pyramid were done by Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie in 1880—82 and published as The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh. Many of the casing stones and inner chamber blocks of the Great Pyramid were fit together with extremely high precision. Based on measurements taken on the north eastern casing stones, the mean opening of the joints are only 0.5 millimetres wide.

There are three pyramids which are collectively called the Great Pyramids of Giza. The largest is the pyramid of Cheops, the middle one the Pyramid of Khafre and the smallest the Pyramid of Menkaure.

Another monument on the Giza Plateau is the Sphinx, a curious lion with the head of a man. The origins and purpose of this monument are still shrouded in mystery. No one can say for sure why or when it was built.

The Sphinx at the Gizeh Plateau.

This is but one of the mysteries that plagues these ancient monuments. Others include the fact that no one was buried in the largest pyramid or the secret method of construction the ancient Egyptians used. The reason why the three pyramids all line up and are on the exact co-ordinates of Orions belt co-responding to the time the pyramids were built? Another mystery is how they managed to transport the heavy slabs of limestone to make the pyramids in the first place.

Mysteries that are yet to be answered, that’s how I left Egypt. I plan to go back there one day and experience all these wonderful things once again. From the bustling bazaars of Cairo to the Fantastic ruins of Karnak Temple.

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