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Exploring the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

If studying about it in school was not enough, then this little blog post should give you more reasons to visit the grandest wonders of our world: The Great Pyramids

 

Intensely thought-provoking magnificence, of the Great Pyramid of Khufu!

 

 

History:

The Pharaohs ruled ancient Egypt for almost 3,000 years leading up to 30 BC. Over the three millennia, each ruler attempted to create a more exorbitant architectural marvel that his ancestors - after all, ancient Egyptians perceived a very glorious life, even after death, and that in his afterlife, man would need all the luxuries that he had when he was alive, and more! And this was how the greatest of all tombs in the ancient Empire came into being in Giza.

There are three main pyramids in this region, although smaller ones dot the vicinity: the Great Pyramid of Khufu (largest), the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure (smallest). Although it is possible to enter the royal chambers of these structures, most of the valuables that were discovered there were eventually moved into the Museum in Cairo. 

 

 

The Pyramid of Khafre

 

 

Facts about the Pyramids:

Made entirely of limestone from nearby quarries, a lot of mystery still surrounds the idea of how these super-structures were actually built! In fact the interiors were lined with granite, which were transported on the Nile from Aswan, in upper Egypt (over 800 kms away). The Great Pyramid of Khufu still stands as the tallest of the three at a height of over 450 feet - totally marvellous (considering how old it is)! The casing (smoothened sides) at the tip of the Pyramid of Khufre show how much of attention went into making these mortuary-temples perfect, aesthetically. The Great Pyramid alone is said to have been built with 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each weighing upto 30 tons, but is widely argued that these numbers are incorrect. 

The Sphinx at the gateway to these Pyramids was built about the same time as its larger neighbours. Bearing a human face and a lion's body, this mythical guardian creature was claimed to be very fierce and terrifying! Many researchers have argued that the human face that has partially remained, was actually that of the Pharaoh Khufre. 

 

 

This picture should put things in perspective!

 

 

How to explore the Pyramid Complex:

  • It is one of the oldest surviving "Wonder of the Ancient World" - so expect to see an ocean of tourists as the day goes - if you want to beat it, get there early!
    Summer (April to September): 7 am to 7 pm
    Winter (October to March): 8 am to 5 pm
    We entered the complex by 8:30 am and it was still pretty empty
  • Start at the Great Pyramid of Khufu, then head to the Pyramid of Khafre and lastly, to the small pyramid of Menkaure
  • The panoramic view point is a little over a kilometre to the west - tourist busses generally stop here for pictures
  • Another view point, is just by the dunes to the south-west:
    With the Menkaure pyramid behind you, just walk straight ahead, through the dunes and dodging tourists and camels to the highest point you can find - from there, you can see all three pyramids, very clearly, without any cascading effects!
  • The entire complex can be easily explored on foot in about half-a-day
  • Camel-rides are available, within the complex - no vehicles are allowed on the dunes
    Another alternative is the horse carriage
  • Tickets to the complex (entry to the Sphinx, and the the three Pyramids) is permitted by a single ticket
    Additional tickets are needed if you want to enter the Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre - entry to the Pyramid of Menkaure is included in the main entry ticket
  • Climbing these structures is a strict no-no (watch out for the tourist police) - but there are designated spots where you are allowed to!
  • There are no snack counters or toilets further inside the complex
  • Don't forget to visit the Sphinx!

 

 

Sound and light show at the Pyramids:

  • There are two shows every evening
  • Check at the ticket-counter for the language schedule - English, Arabic, Italian, etc.
  • The show is quite fascinating and although it is very outdated technology, the sheer size of these monuments can be appreciated in a different perspective with the colorful lighting and background narration!
  • Separate tickets are to be purchased - EGP 200 (USD 12 or INR 800) as of January 2019
  • Tip: If you stay at a hotel right outside the complex, your host can set up some seating on the terrace for a free show - that's what we did!

 

 

A hazy morning, well spent with these guys at the Pyramids!

 

 

Here are a few other pointers to keep in mind while exploring Giza:

 

Getting to Giza:

  • Giza is about 20 kms from Cairo, and 45 kms from the Cairo International Airport
  • Uber, Careem, and local Taxis are available
  • There is a metro line between Giza and Cairo, but the station at El-Giza is 7 kms away from the Pyramids
    Buses ply between these two points - EGP 5 (INR 20, or USD 0.3) per passenger
  • Shared minivan taxis also operate on the main streets of Giza

 

Where to stay in Giza:

  • There are many hotels and BnBs to stay at right in front of the Pyramid Complex
  • Sphinx Guest House, Pyramids Overlook Inn, Great Pyramid Inn, Guardian Guest House, Mena House, etc. - check them out here
  • Most of these hotels are fully sold out in the tourist Season (November to March), so booking ahead and reconfirming on the phone/email is a good idea - overbooking rooms is common in Giza hotels!
  • A decent, private room costs about USD 35 (INR 2,500) 

 

What to eat in Giza:

  • Just like any other modern city, Giza is home to many restaurants
  • Many restaurants are present right outside the entrance to the Pyramids Complex and offer Middle Eastern and Italian cuisines
  • Pizza Hut and KFC outlets are also present - and the best view of the Pyramids is actually from the top floor of the Pizza Hut building!

 

 Shopping in Giza:

  • Souvenir stalls are innumerable, both inside and outside the complex 
  • Don't hesitate to bargain - most items are offered at 4 times the rate you could buy it at!
  • Street-side sellers can be very, very pushy - stick to your confident "La, Shukran" or "No, thanks" if you are not interested in buying, and they will stop bothering you
  • Papyrus and Alabaster products make good souvenirs
    Clothes: Egyptian cotton is the world's best
    Our favourite was the King Tut mummy-in-a-box figurine!

 

 

Have any other questions? We're all for helping! Leave a comment or write to us here.

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