Saturday, October 16, 2010

Holy Land Tour Day 13


The beginning of the Petra story
 The Grandview Hotel overlooks a mammoth valley with Mount Hor on the opposite side. On this mountain is the shrine of Aaron (Moses' brother). After a bit of co-ersion all 18 pilgrims take the short bus ride to the start of the Petra Gorge.

James, our Jordanian guide, did a terrific job on this day explaining the way this great wonder of the world came to be. The geological and human history of this place is a wonder. In recent times, he told us, the UN have taken control of the site and the Bedouins have been given a new housing estate not far from the caves within the village they have lived in for hundreds of years up until recently.

The human history of this place is amazing. The ancient inhabitants were incredible carvers of stone and their best work was done on building tombs. These are elaborate to say the least, full of symbols and meanings. There are other carvings like camels and shrines and of course their own homes - though these were by no means as nearly as elaborate as the tombs after all a tomb would be home for eternity.

The Bedouins lead donkeys, camels and ride horses and drive
sulkies with tourists on board into the valley
 Meanwhile for most of us trekking into the gorge is either on foot or via horse and sulky. A few camels are also used to make the journey which took us over 2 hours with lots of stops along the way to the centre of the village. Today the temperature has been in the mid thirties and it certainly was good to take on water and keep in the shade as much as possible.

Nevertheless we are fascinated by the number of tombs and the grandeur of the carving which seems to increase until we at last reached the "Treasury" - a piece of sublime work of mammoth proportions the pictures hardly do justice to it.  This is in all 47 metres high and almost 30 metres wide.  (8 metres of the total height is below current ground level).

The Treasury
 There was however more the come - an ampitheatre that seats 4000 all carved out of the rock, lots more tombs to the Kings and tombs for ordinary citizens.

Some of us sat and contemplated this gigantic scene as we ate a meal purchased from the Bedouins, which they called "a lunch box".

We returned mid afternoon to our hotel  - some to sleep and some to swim before prayers at 6.30 with dinner to follow.

Thanks for your comments - please keep them rolling in.

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