Seti I Temple
Day 5 began with a minibus journey through the local villages rather than via the main road. We were starting our day at the northern-most temple in the necropolis. The mortuary temple of Seti I, father to Ramses the Great, is a seldom-visited gem, not far from the New Qurna market.
Hidden from the main Valley of the Kings road, this wonderful little temple was built by Seti late in his reign and is supposedly in honour of his father, Ramses I, who only ruled for a couple of years and didn’t have time to construct his own temple. That said, it would appear that the Seti I temple was actually completed by Seti’s own son, Ramses the Great. The temple faces east and is directly in line with, probably, Seti’s greatest work, the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak.
Continuing along that line, our next stop was the Splendour of Splendours, the mortuary temple of the female pharaoh, Hatshepsut. Set against the magnificent backdrop of the cliffs of the Theban mountains, Djeser Djeseru, as it is called, never fails to impress, with its Osirid statues of the queen looking forever eastward to Karnak, in fact, the entire temple is oriented to the winter solstice sunrise. The first level colonnades were closed and so we made our way up the long ramp, past the remains of the Myrrh trees from Punt, to the second level. We began our traverse of this level at the southern end at the chapel of Hathor, with its beautiful array of Hathorite pillars, past the divine birth scenes to the fascinating depictions of the trade expedition to the land of Punt. Unfortunately, the sunlight has caused these marvellous renditions to fade, and it was difficult to make out what was what. At the northern end of the second level is the Anubis Chapel. Up one more ramp to the third level and, at the back, lies the Sanctuary of Amun. If one continued following our imaginary line it would take you through the mountain to the great queen’s tomb.
Time to travel forward in time, but first there was the gauntlet of traders by the Hatshepsut ticket office to get past. With most of our group through unscathed, we set off on the short trip to the house of Howard Carter. This was his main residence through all those years of working in the valley, looking for Tutankhamun. The house has been restored and features a selection of items from the time, including the great man’s desk, his typewriter and many other items from his daily life. The walls are covered with photographs of the excavations, and it was interesting to get a glimpse of Carter’s own “dark room”. I must say I was quite surprised at how big the house was, I had some preconception of a small dig house. This moderate snapshot of how life must have been for Carter, with the endless searching, before finally finding that long-hidden first step, is a must-see if you are interested in the history of the excavations.
Tutankhamun Replica Tomb
Another must-see, in the grounds, is the facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The accuracy of the reproductions is astounding and well worth a visit, either because you didn’t pay the extra in the Valley itself, or, as we did, to take the opportunity to grab some photos inside “KV62”
Time for a very late lunch, and then a revisit to the East Bank and a chance, for those that missed it first time round, to go to Luxor Temple. A couple of hours can easily slip by when you are walking in Luxor Temple. Soon it was time for our last excursion of the day. The boat was ready at the landing point, just behind the temple, and we climbed aboard to be met by a royal spread all set out for our sunset picnic.
Casting off, we headed upstream, weaving our way through a flotilla of feluccas, all the time watching the sun begin its descent in the west. The whole river seemed to have sparked into life as every type of boat, from the huge cruise ships down to a lowly rowing boat, decided that now was the time to be out on the river. Eventually we moored amidst lush grasses on the western bank, where the food was fully enjoyed, and, I believe, the drinks went down equally well.
Finally the sun bid us farewell, as it slid below the horizon to begin its own boat journey through the underworld.