Dakhla Oasis Attractions El-Dakhla
The Dakhla Oasis (El-Dakhla, the Inner Oasis) lies in the Western Desert some 465mi/750km southwest of Cairo, in latitude 25° 24' north and longitude 28° 54' east.
Its lush green date groves and gardens are an attractive sight, contrasting strikingly with the ochre and pink rocks of the desert.Dakhla is, after the Fayyum, the largest and most populous of the Egyptian oases, with some 20,000 inhabitants. It has large reserves of water, with more than 700 natural springs, lakes and ponds; but since the water of the springs is brackish it must be pounded and stored in a network of cisterns to allow the salt to settle. Like the other large oases in the Western (Libyan) Desert, Dakhla is being developed and enlarged under the New Valley land reclamation project. Deep bores have tapped underground water for use in irrigation and have made it possible to win new land for cultivation. The inhabitants of the oasis cultivate and export dates, citrus fruits, mangoes, apricots and vegetables, and also rear a certain amount of livestock (mainly poultry). In recent years increasing quantities of phosphate have been mined.Excavations here have shown that Dakhla was inhabited at a very early stage. In antiquity there were many more springs and lakes than there are today, providing excellent conditions for the growing of vines and the rearing of livestock. The inhabitants of the oasis carried on an active trade with the people of the Nile Valley, but have preserved down to the present day their Berber inheritance.
The chief place in the eastern part of the oasis is the little town of Balat, which has the remains of a Temple of Mut dating from the New Kingdom, mastabas of the Sixth Dynasty and the First Intermediate Period and tombs of the Graeco-Roman period. In this area, too, traces of Neolithic settlement have been found.
The chief place in the northwest part of the oasis is El-Qasr, with a picturesque old town, now abandoned, and a ruined castle. In the vicinity are the remains of a Temple of Thoth and a cemetery of the Graeco-Roman period.
To the southwest of El-Qasr, at Amhada, are tombs of the First Intermediate Period, and to the west, at Oaret el-Muzawaqa, a cemetery of the Roman period with well preserved painted tombs.
Monastery of the Stone
Some 6mi/10km southwest of El-Qasr is the Deir el-Hagar ("Monastery of the Stone"), the sand covered remains of a large Egyptian temple of the Roman Imperial period (First C. A.D.) dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khons which was later occupied by Coptic monks. Surrounded by a strong brick wall (77yd/70m by 43yd/39m), it followed the classic pattern, with a pylon followed by a pillared court and a hypostyle hall with a vestibule and sanctuary. The Roman Emperors Vespasian, Titus, Domitian and Nero are mentioned in inscriptions. There are fine reliefs of religious rituals and sacrifices. Near the remains are hot sulfur springs (108° F/42° C), with structures which appear to be of Roman date. In the surrounding area are numerous other ancient remains buried under the sand.
On the south side of the oasis, at Mut el-Kharab, are remains of temples and other buildings dating from the Third Intermediate Period. Northeast of Mut, at Smantel-Kharab, are remains of a settlement and a temple of the Roman period.
Some 9mi/14km southeast of Balat lies the picturesque village of Ezbet-Bashendi, many of the houses in which are built with stones from ancient buildings.