The Aga Khan Mausoleum is a magnificent structure built to honor one of the greatest men of the modern age. This mausoleum is a fantastic stop on any tour in the area! Because this site is essentially only accessible from the river, and because quite a steep climb/hike, we have not included this site in our regular Egypt tour packages. We can however add it to any one of our tour itineraries if it is requested.
Who Was Aga Khan?
The mausoleum has been built in honor of Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III. The mausoleum is located in Aswan. Some Nile River cruises actually sail past this monument at a reduced speed so that passengers get the opportunity to take photographs of it.
The Aga Khan was the 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, one of the founders of the All-India Muslim League, and even briefly served as President of the League of Nations in 1937. Aga Khan was the spiritual leader of the Ismailis, a Shi’ite sect, which mostly developed in India. Though this spiritual leader died in 1957, his mausoleum still stands and can be seen above the white villa where he once lived. The Aga Khan mausoleum can be seen even from as far away as the Nile.
Aga Khan III was extremely wealthy. In fact, his people say that on his birthday in the year 1945 he was weighed in diamonds, which he then gave to his followers in a spirit of generosity.
The mausoleum was built according to his wife Yvette Blanche Labrousse’s wishes. She was also known as Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and then eventually given the title Mata Salama. When Aga Khan knew it was his time to die he decided to build a location for his burial place; it would be somewhere along the West Bank of the Nile River. When her husband died, she oversaw the construction of the Aga Khan Mausoleum, and finished the project in 16 months with the help of famous architects and contractors.
The Aga Khan Mausoleum
The structure is recognizable by its elegance and by its special use of pink granite and calcareous sandstone. The interior of the building features light colors and gloriously red carpet that is still regularly maintained. The entrance to the Aga Khan mausoleum requires a hard climb on a stepped path, followed by an esplanade from which a flight of steps comes up. Etiquette requires that all visitors keep silent out of respect.
After Aga Khan’s death, his surviving widow continued to leave a red rose on his white Carrara marble tomb. Living in the villa, she managed to do this faithfully until her own death in 2000. Even to this day, as per request of Mata Salama, a red rose still finds its way to the sarcophagus.
Always check for available times and tours in Aswan to see if and when the Aga Khan Mausoleum is opened to the public. This is one of the grandest and most romantic attractions in Aswan and also in all of Lower Egypt so make plans to purchase an Egypt guided tour that includes the Aga Khan Mausoleum. It is a nice place to visit before boarding Nile cruises from Aswan to Luxor, or after enjoying Nile cruises from Luxor to Aswan.