Cairo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made an unscheduled trip to the Pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World built more than 4,000 years ago and among the most recognized tourist icons in the world like the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The largest of the three Pyramids — built on a rocky outcrop just outside Cairo — is the Great Pyramid, soaring to a height of 146.5 meters or 481 feet. It was built by Pharaoh Khufu, the ruler of Egypt at the time. Qutub Minar in New Delhi, built in the early 13th century is 72.5 meters (238 feet) high.
All three pyramids were built between 2600 BC and 2500 BC during the rule of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Ancient Egyptian history is divided into three main periods, the Old Kingdom (about 2700 to 2200 BC), Middle Kingdom (2050 to 1800 BC) and the New Kingdom (1550 to 1100 BC).
Ancient Egyptian kingdoms were ruled by omnipotent Phraoahs or kings who were seen as semi-divine figures, and throughout history indulged in magnificent building projects, including temples, mostly in a bid to immortalize their rule and legacy.
Khufu’s predecessors also built smaller Pyramids but they were imperfect structures, which are now in ruins. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is notable for its symmetry, size and engineering perfection.
The Pyramids were used by the Pharaohs as their tombs, in which they would be buried along untold riches of gold jewelery and finery in the belief that they would need them in afterlife.
The Great Pyramid stood as the tallest structure in the world for more than 4,000 years before modern buildings came up.
The other two pyramids are those of Pharoah Khafre standing 136.4 meters or 448 feet, and that of Pharoah Menkaure, rising 65 meters (213 feet).
Despite their age, the pyramids, made of massive stone blocks weighing roughly 3 tonnes each, are the only Ancient wonder that have remained largely intact.
Located in the Giza Necropolis, or burial grounds, just outside the city of Cairo, the Pyramids mark a glorious time in human civilization.
The ancient ruins of the Memphis area, including the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, a half-human-half-lion figure, were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
The Great Pyramid was built by quarrying an estimated 2.3 million large blocks, weighing 6 million tonnes in total.
Millions of tourists from around the world visit the Pyramids every year.
Modi visited the pyramids on the second day of his two-day state visit to Egypt, following a successful state visit to the US.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly accompanied Modi during the visit.
“I thank PM Mostafa Madbouly for accompanying me to the Pyramids. We had a rich discussion on the cultural histories of our nations and how to deepen these linkages in the times to come,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted after the visit.