Boat ride to Colourful Nubian Village
History Of This Place
Welcome to Nubia region along the Nile river situated between present day’s northern Sudan and southern Egypt. It represents one of the oldest civilizations of Africa and home to some of Africa’s earliest kingdoms which were popular for rich deposits of gold. Also, used to be a gateway for luxury products like ivory, ebony etc. Its history can be traced as far back as 2000 BC. In fact, Nubians ruled over ancient Egypt for about hundred years or so. There were one of the first civilizations to settle down along the Nile. They were known to be skilled archers. The Nubian village which I visited is located in Aswan, Egypt and is home to some of Egypt’s ancient ruins.
Introduction to Nubian Village
These are the most colourful villages in entire Egypt painted in rainbow colours. There are mostly geometrical patterns in bright colours along with paintings of nature and everyday life. Yellow colour represents the sun; green colour represents the earth while blue colour represents river Nile & the sky. Well, Nubians have shifted from Sudan thousands of years ago to start farming around river Nile. They are very friendly people who have preserved their ancient traditions to this day. They have their distinct culture, way of living and language. They speak a language which does not have official alphabet or in other words, it is completely oral. It is called Nuba and not taught to any outsider. They also have their unique storytelling, poetry and music. You can either drive down in your car/hire a cab or can opt for a boat ride to one of the Nubian villages from Aswan, a city in Southern Egypt.
Motorboat Ride to the Village
As for us, we chose a motorboat ride to one of these colourful villages. It was a half day trip, both scenic & peaceful on river Nile; took about forty-five minutes from Aswan. We passed by farmlands; camels grazing on the shores; palms trees swaying and some fishing shacks.
Mausoleum of Aga Khan
On our way to the village, we happened to see this tomb made of limestone and dedicated to the late Aga Khan III who died in the year 1957. It is said that his wife visited his tomb everyday to place a rose over there until she passed away in the year 2000. This tradition of placing a rose on the tomb has continued since then to the present times.
Bazaars of Nubian Village
On entering this village, we were greeted by some camels lazing around on the sandy lanes – fond memories of Rajasthan for sure. You can go for a camel ride in case you are interested.
The best way to explore this village is to walk around the bazar/market selling souvenirs including incense & perfumes, garments, baskets, footwear and local spices ranging from clove, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, curry powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin (both powder & whole) to roasted nuts to trinkets to Nubian dolls to different types of tea and much more. The splash of colours was very inviting. I literally soaked in it while the aroma of the spices wafted in the air.
Cafes and Restaurants
You can also chill out in the restaurants and cafes over here. Many traditional houses here have been converted to hotels and guest houses. They are beautifully painted and so are the staircases, courtyards, terraces & balconies overlooking the Nile. You can also book in advance and spend the night here.
The Nubians are very popular for their great hospitality, loving hearts and beautiful smiles. Guests are always welcomed here warmly and offered hibiscus tea which is red in colour. Another traditional beverage of theirs is strong jabana coffee.
The Nubian ladies wear colourful garments; necklaces & bracelets made from camel bones. They also apply henna on their hands and feet. Henna is a reddish colour paste made from the leaves of henna plant. A Nubian bride makes tattoos on her body with henna and covers herself from head to toe before getting married. You will find many women there who would gladly do henna tattoos for you. They are highly talented who make intricate and beautiful designs.
Crocodiles as Pets
Crocodiles play a prominent role in Nubian culture. They are kept as pets along with their photos and paintings. Sounds interesting, isn’t it? They are raised very lovingly and they live on chicken, meat and fish. These reptiles have been with the Nubians since time immemorial. They were initially kept as pets to keep intruders and evil spirits at bay. Today they basically entertain the guests. After a crocodile dies, it is skinned and mummified by the owner and then hung above the door of the house. This signifies that the owner has pet reptiles which tourists can get a glimpse of. This is a source of additional income for the Nubians.
Also, to know more about the history and culture of Nubians, you can visit the Nubian Museum.
It wasn’t easy bidding goodbye to this village. Loved basking in one of the cafes sipping hibiscus tea; going for a camel ride; getting henna tattoos done on my hands; listening to their stories; feeding the crocodiles; climbing up the rainbow stairs and watching the sunset at the far end of river Nile. Afterall, I was at the heart of ancient Egypt – the land of dreams, mysteries and memories and yes, making reservations for putting up at Aswan city or in Nubian village is just a click away. There are plenty of online bookings available. So, until we meet again, stay indoors and safe. See you soon.