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Old 11th September 2010, 16:48   #256
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Default Eid-Ul-Fitr

Finally, the Ramadan ended and Eid-Ul-Fitr was celebrated here yesterday. Here the holidays are for three days. The celebration is a typical primary class essay type. People wear new clothes, distribute/share/eat lots of sweets. Children play with new toys etc.

Some of the differences which I noticed or at least I think its different from India. Muslim friends please forgive me if I faulter in this and I would love if some one can correct me.

1. Women prepare special dessert known as Ka'ak (basically a high calorie cake) for the feast. But its very different in taste with any cakes we know. Its stuffed with dates, dry fruits etc.

2. The greeting that is said to those celebrating Eid is ' Eid Mubarak', (Blessed Feast), 'Eid Saeed' (Happy Eid) or 'Kul Sana Wa Inta Tayib' (Happy New Year).

3. People visit the cemetery to pay respect to the ancestors and remember them on this festival day. Here, people have a family burial place, where the last rites of the deceased are performed and all the graves are located closeby. The area is owned by the family. There are caretakers in the cemetery area for maintenance of this area. AFAIK this is not the tradition among Indian Muslims (visiting the graves). Please correct me if I am wrong.

4. Second and third day of the festival is spent visiting relatives/neighbours and exchanging gifts. People go out for a picnic and spent the day (normally the last day) enjoying and eating outside.

5. Most of the shops and business is closed during these days, i.e. full three days. One must stock on necessities for the duration.

6. During Ramadan, people hang "Ramadan Lamp" outside their houses/ shops. Lighting of places other than this is minimal restricted to big buildings/shops. There is some cracker playing too.

Below is a pic of a typical "Ramadan Lamp" taken from the internet.

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A shop of souvenirs with some decoration in Khan-el-Khalili during my recent visit during Ramadan in night.

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A shop of lamps. (not Ramdan Lamps but decorative lamps made of aluminium) Khan-el-Khalili.

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Last edited by TaureanBull : 11th September 2010 at 16:56.
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Old 12th September 2010, 00:32   #257
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Default Islamic Cairo Part I

Guys, after lots of days of inactivity today I decided its enough! I set out of my house in late afternoon to explore Islamic Cairo (popular by this name) all by myself. Islamic Cairo is actually the oldest portion of Cairo which has lots of Islamic monuments and various types of Souqs (markets). There are narrow lanes, lots of crowd (tourists, locals, hawkers, touts etc) and lots of old houses.

The Islamic Cairo is spread in a wide are. Therefore, it takes lots of walking (no means of transportation in the narrow lanes), lots of time and lots of patience too.

Today, I just covered a part of it; the part near to Khan-el-Khalili and Hussein area. I will keep covering it slowly with time. IMO it would take 2-3 more outings to cover the entire area. Qala'a-as-Salahddin I have already covered before.

I would also cover the Coptic Cairo part too afterwards.

Below are few maps of Cairo I found on internet.

First, entire Cairo with places of tourist interests marked.

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Second, Islamic Cairo.

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Third, the areas where I went today.

Guys, gotta wait for some time for the pics as I am in the process of sorting them out.
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Old 12th September 2010, 08:22   #258
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Yes, you're right on the point on visiting the cemetry; they're no longer or not followed here.

Quote:
Islamic Cairo is actually the oldest portion of Cairo which has lots of Islamic monuments and various types of Souqs (markets). There are narrow lanes, lots of crowd (tourists, locals, hawkers, touts etc) and lots of old houses
If I understood right, its basically a downtown area. Correct me if I'm wrong here. Somehow, I'm not comfortable hearing this - touts. So be careful.

Also what's this map? Is this a photo of a map from the book or is this available online?
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Old 12th September 2010, 10:31   #259
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@aargee : No, its not the downtown area but adjacent to it. The downtown area is what was developed in the late19th and early 20th century.

About touts : Its mostly I have heard or read in books, but so far not encountered any. There have been reports of pick pocketing too. Main targets are the Europeans/Americans. There is also verbal harrassment to women from these places who wear skimpy clothes like mini skirt, shorts etc. Sometimes the hawkers can be irritating and will follow you for a long distance if they think you might be interested. They seem to recognize people's nationality and known few sentences from their native language. I have been chased many times with dialogues of Amitabh Bachchan!

Maps : Possibly these are maps scanned from a tourist book/guide. But I found them while searching on net. So, my source is internet. They are reasonably good, however, details of streets etc are not all that good.

Pics coming soon..
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Old 12th September 2010, 13:02   #260
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Default Islamic Cairo Part I

The central place to start this tour is to reach Maidan Hussein (Hussein Square) adjacent to Souq Khan-el-Khalili. I did exactly that. Equipped with some net downloaded maps and LP! Little did I know what was coming up.

Right in front of the Maidan is Mosque Sayedna el-Husseyn. It is the burial place of the head of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet. This event caused the rift between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam. Being a holy place, non-muslims are not permitted inside.

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Armed with my 'priceless' possession of maps, I set my foot into the narrow lanes to discover the place. After roaming around for about an hour I returned back to my original place.

Nonetheless I did see few places which did not even find a place in the books. After some enquiry, I did get my route.

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Bottom line : The places dont exist so clearcut as it appears in these tourist maps. So, beware!

Working on more pics..
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Old 12th September 2010, 16:13   #261
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Default Islamic Cairo Part I

Having wandered for some time, I crossed the underpass on Al-Azhar street to see the Mosque Al-Azhar. It was closed at that time as the prayers were on. I met an Egyptian who began talking to me (always be suspicious as such things in a tourist place normally leads to something). He turned out to be a genuine person and he was interested in improving his English.

He offered me to take me to Bab al-Zuweila and the area around as his house nearby. That made my exploration easier.

These are the views of the Al-Azhar Mosque and Al-Azhar University; the new structure is in Nasr City near the "Unknown Soldiers' Monument" which I have covered earlier.

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Mosque Abu Dahab (opposite Mosque Al-Azhar)

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Sabeel Mohammed Aly Pascha (Sabeel means a Spring/water for travellers). Enroute to Bab el-Zuweila.

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Bab el-Zuweila : First View

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Old 12th September 2010, 16:39   #262
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
I met an Egyptian who began talking to me (always be suspicious as such things in a tourist place normally leads to something).
Ofcourse, happens everywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
He turned out to be a genuine person and he was interested in improving his English.
What?? Improving English? Learning with a foreigner? Hmm...sounds interesting. How did you even find out this?

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Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
He offered me to take me to Bab al-Zuweila and the area around as his house nearby. That made my exploration easier.
Waiting for more to come...
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Old 12th September 2010, 20:20   #263
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Default Islamic Cairo Part I

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
What?? Improving English? Learning with a foreigner? Hmm...sounds interesting. How did you even find out this?
Yes. Knowing English is a sure shot way to earn a good paying job which is rare here. With a foreigner, yes, why not! English is not a common language. Just to horn some skills while conversing with foreigners. Learning English is als pretty expensive.

Lots of pics to come.

These are some views of notorious Bab el-Zuweila. Notorious, as it was a common hanging site during the Muslim rule. The equipment is still in place. The long wooden beam below the arch of gate is under which the person would stand with noose around neck and other side the apparatus to hold the rope on the wall. The famous hanging was that of Tuman Bay, the last Mamluk Sultan. He was hung there for three days, after he was defeated by Selim I, marking the beginning of Ottoman rule. Just guess the way it used to work.

Some even claim that people were even sawed here.

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A Sun Dial on the wall of Mosque al-Muyya'ad, adjacent to Bab el-Zuweila.

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Old 12th September 2010, 22:50   #264
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Default Islamic Cairo Part I

I proceeded across the gate to what is know as Tentmakers Market (Souq al-Khimawaiyya). It being a three day holiday for Eid was closed for all but one. You can see an LML parked there. Pretty popular here.

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One side of the gate of Bab el-Zuweila.

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Mosque Al-Selah Telai (opposite the sun dial)

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Its ornate entrance!

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Mosque al-Muyya'ad. Its nice entrance and the caretaker in Galabiyya, looking for some quick money. I had to give him LE 20/- for permission to go to the roof, for what he said would provide me a spectacular view of the Islamic Cairo. Lets see!

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Old 13th September 2010, 09:37   #265
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This might turn out to be the biggest blog around!!! good work..
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Old 13th September 2010, 10:40   #266
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Default Islamic Cairo I

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Originally Posted by MohsinRoadster View Post
This might turn out to be the biggest blog around!!! good work..
Thanks buddy.

After all the climb to the roof top was not useless and the baksheesh was well worth. In addition to good views it oriented me to the location of various other places.

Some views of the neighbourhood...

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Qala'a as-Salahddin

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Burjs of Bab al-Zuweila

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The Mosque al-Muyya'ad Complex

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See carefully the crowd on top of the green patch, thats al-azhar park.

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Qala'a as-Salahddin and Masjid Ibn Tulun

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The roof : My workplace

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Burjs and Qala'a

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Old 13th September 2010, 10:45   #267
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Some of the photos are really very good. I think you are mastering the DSLR quickly!
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Old 13th September 2010, 11:12   #268
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Dear TaureanBull,

Your pics are a feast better then any brochure-you have captured the essence of Egypt-its on my Radar-plan to do it next year. Me and my wife like to personalise our trips abroad and not the travel agency kind-but totally budget travellers. May I request you to please suggest hotels and itineraries-I would love to cover Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor?? any other place you can suggest?
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Old 13th September 2010, 11:38   #269
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
Some of the photos are really very good. I think you are mastering the DSLR quickly!
Thanks a lot.

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Originally Posted by Judemayne View Post
Dear TaureanBull,

Your pics are a feast better then any brochure-you have captured the essence of Egypt-its on my Radar-plan to do it next year. Me and my wife like to personalise our trips abroad and not the travel agency kind-but totally budget travellers. May I request you to please suggest hotels and itineraries-I would love to cover Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor?? any other place you can suggest?
You will really enjoy in Egypt. Plenty of options available for hotels. But first set your itinerary in detail. Why Alexandria? There is n't much let me tell you unless you want to explore Egypt fully.

The must dos are Cairo (1-2 days), Luxor-Aswan and possibly Abu Simbel (4 days onwards), Sinai (St Catherine) and if you are interested you can cross to Jordan by ferry from Sinai to visit Petra. In addition, Oases, snorkelling/ diving, Luxor-Aswan by Nile Cruise are additional options.

Of course, how many places you visit will depend on how many days you spend here. First, decide on that.

In any case by January I would have covered all the major attractions in Egypt and you could go through them. They will start pouring in from November onwards.
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Old 13th September 2010, 12:09   #270
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@TB - The baksheesh is worth. But somehow, I feel these places are quite dry, atleast, that's what I infer from the pics. DSC221 portrays a typical islamic country & nice capture there. Most important question - did you see any tauts ?
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