The Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza, which happens to be one of the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing, re-entered the imagination of Indians with the song ‘Teri Ore’ featuring two heart throbs of the nation, Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar.

Estimated to stand 481 feet tall, which is equivalent to a contemporary 48-story building, Pyramids of Giza is renowned as the largest pyramid ever built. Standing on the northern edge of the Giza Plateau, at a distance of 10 miles west of Cairo, its earliest mention is found in the memoirs of Greek  historian and traveler Herodotus of Halicanassus. It was commissioned as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu to protect his body as well as his possessions after his demise. Most historians agree that Khufu’s vizier, Hemon, was the architect of the Great Pyramid.

When Khufu ascended the throne, after the death of Sneferu, there was no space at Dahshur, for Khufu’s own, rather ambitious pyramid complex. Moreover, he desired a location overlooking the Nile Valley for his towering tomb, which he found at Giza.

The Great Pyramid is the centerpiece of an elaborate complex. Right next lay three smaller pyramids which are believed to hold the Pharaoh’s queens. It had maintained its position as the tallest man made structure in the world for 3800 years.

The inside of The Great Pyramid of Giza consists of three chambers. Today tourists enter the Great Pyramid via the Robbers’ Tunnel which leads to a passageway that descends 191 ft through the pyramid into an underground chamber. The Pyramids contain the Grand Gallery, King’s Chamber and Queen’s Chamber.

Pyramid of Giza continues to be a point of marvel for most historians. There construction of the Pyramids has continued to be a point of contention among scientists, historians and architects. The most accepted theory is based that it was built by transporting an estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks from a quarry and dragging and lifting them. French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin advanced the theory that a spiral ramp was used to move the stone blocks. Another highlight is that it is the only pyramid in Egypt known to contain both ascending and descending passages.  Every other pyramid known only has descending passages.

The Pyramids, as tourists explore it today is different from what it was envisioned and created originally. The pyramid itself was encased in a highly polished white limestone with a smooth surface which no longer exists. A capstone at the top is also now missing. Originally, the pyramid was covered with casing stones, which reflected the sun’s light and made the pyramid shine. The light reflected would be so powerful that, the ancient Egyptians aptly nicknamed the Great Pyramid “Ikhet”, meaning the “Glorious Light”.

As for Khufu’s mummy and his treasure, numerous excavations have been done but no traces have been found. Incidentally, another important fact about the pyramid is that the precision with which it is oriented northwards is unparalleled to any other building.

The best way to reach the Pyramids of Giza is to either hire a private taxi or hop on to a bus from the capital city of Cairo. Being a popular tourist attraction of the world, visitors are advised to keep an eye out for guides, salesmen etc. who might lure and fool you.

Apart from that, enjoy the breathtaking canvas which the Pyramids have to offer you.