March 22, 2012

My Memories with The Sphinx of Giza | Travel To Egypt Story 3

The Sphinx is the main actor in the nightly Son et Lumiere performance at the Great Pyramids. Each evening the drama of thousands of years of history is reenacted with the aid of multicolored lights, accompanied by stately music and balanced, poetic narration. Although I have seen Son et Lumiere performances at the Red Fort in India and at Persepolis in Iran, I found the performance at the Sphinx the most compelling, possibly because of the ability of the Sphinx to conjure up thousands of years of history right before one’s eyes.

The Sphinx OF Giza
The Sphinx OF Giza

With the pauses in narration, the silence is profoundly eloquent. Then the narration picks the story up again:

“With each new dawn I see the Sun-god rise on the bank of the Nile. His first ray is for my face. And for five thousand years I have seen all the suns men can remember come up in the sky. . .
“I saw Anthony and Cleopatra pass. Alexander, Caesar and
Napoleon passed at my feet. I saw the ambitious dreams of conquerors whirling like dead leaves. . . .
“Centuries passed over my forehead yet those great soldiers raised no more than dust. . . .
“In the course of time, only human achievements crumble and fall but the spirit which conceived these monuments cannot perish.”
The Sphinx falls silent. The lights go out. He has suggested the truth about man’s impotence and the transience of all things.
Ancient Egyptian Pyramids
Ancient Egyptian Pyramids
The impression created by the Pyramids is constantly changing, differing with the time of day. Similarly, the view from the Pyramids is different from every direction. If a sightseer goes to Giza, he can stay at the Hotel Mena House, located just below the Pyramids. It was here, in 1943, that Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek met and issued the Cairo Declaration, the document containing the conditions for ending World War II. Guests can gaze at the Pyramids bathed in moonlight or under the harsh glare of the midday sun and breathe the pure air of the desert. People relaxing on the terrace with a glass of beer or a cup of tea, occasionally raise their heads in the direction of the Pyramids. Some guests set out on horseback from the front of the hotel the novices with guides leading the horses, and the more experienced taking the reins and galloping off in fine style, bringing to mind thoughts of Lawrence of Arabia.

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