Travels in Arabia, by John Lewis Burckhardt

Arrival at Mekka

The coffee-houses, unfortunately, had also been inundated; we could not find a dry place on which to sit, and with some difficulty a fire was lighted in one of the small and more weather-proof huts of the Arabs, into which the Kadhy, with a few of his people and myself, crept, and boiled our coffee; in another hut were his women, crying from the severity of the cold. He not wishing that they should be exposed to the consequences of such a night’s lodging, mounted again, after a stay of half an hour, and proceeded towards Mekka, leaving me and my party in possession of the fire, by the side of which, after some time, we contrived to make ourselves com­fortable.

September 9th. We set out early, and found that the storm of yesterday had not extended farther than the plain of Arafat. Such storms and inundations are frequent in this country, where the seasons seem to be much less regular than in other places under the same latitude. I heard that in the Upper Mountains, and at Tayf, the rainy season, although not so regular as under the tropics in Africa, is yet more steady than in the low country of Mekka and Djidda, where, even in the midst of summer, the sky is often clouded by storms and rain. The historians of Mekka have recorded several dreadful inundations in that city; the most disastrous occurred in the years of the Hedjira 80, 184, 202, 280, 297, 549, 620, 802, 829. In some of these, the whole town of Mekka, and the Temple, as high as the black stone, were under water, and in all of them many houses were destroyed and lives lost. Assamy gives the details of an inundation which devastated Mekka in A.H. 1039, or in the year 1626 of our era, when five hundred lives were lost, and the Kaaba in the Temple was destroyed. Another dreadful inundation happened in 1672.

I arrived at Mekka about mid-day, when my companions went in search of their acquaintance among the soldiers, and left me to shift for myself, without knowing a single individual in the town, and without being recommended to any body but the Kadhy, whom, as I have already said, I wished to avoid.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31