Esna is a Nile River cruise port and town in Upper Egypt, located on river's west bank, and approx 55 km (35 mi) south of Luxor. The town has population over 80,000 and is part of Luxor Governorate (total population over 1,27 million).
Esna temple is partially excavated, ~200 m (650 ft) from the river and ~9 m (25 ft) below street level. The temple was dedicated to the Ancient Gyptian god Khnum (source of Nile River), his family (Menhit, Nebtu, Heka) and also to goddess Neith (the first/prime creator of the universe, also governing its functions). The temple complex was built of red sandstone. The portico (roof structure) was supported by 6 rows of columns (total 24 pilars) all with lotus-leaf capitals (pilasters). The temple was one of Ancient Egypt's most important places of worship. According to building's wall-carved inscriptions, before entering all visitors had to cut their fingernails and toenails, to remove all body hair, to wash hands with natron (natural salt), to dress in linen (wearing wool was forbidden) and to abstain from sexual intercourse for several days.
In 1906, the British constructed here a barrage bridge over Nile River. A second bridge was constructed in the 1990s. Nile cruise ships visiting Esna navigate the route between Luxor and Aswan. Passing of riverboats through Esna locks usually takes 2-3 hours.