"Indian Lady Tourists Killed at Jericho": Tourism, Pilgrimage and South-South relations in Interwar Palestine


  • Sarah Irving Staffordshire University




British Empire, hajj, India, Muslim, Mandatory Palestine, tourism


In press coverage of the 1927 earthquake in Palestine, frequent mention is made of the deaths of three women at the Winter Palace Hotel in Jericho. That the three were from British-occupied India apparently rendered them unusual enough to be noted by a journalist, whose observation was reproduced around the world. This article draws on newspapers, official documents, and secondary literature on the hajj, tourism, and the British Empire to consider the history of South Asian travelers to Palestine and relationships between colonialism and travel in the interwar period.

One of the three women was Lady Abdul Rauf, the wife of a retired high court judge and veteran Indian Muslim nationalist campaigner, Sir Syed Abdul Rauf. The couple had departed Bombay in April 1927 for the hajj to Mecca and Medina but extended their trip to include Jericho. This was not unusual; the Indian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem in fact attests to a long history of Indian visitors to Palestine. This paper, however, locates the ill-fated presence of Lady Abdul Rauf and her companions in the changing nature of Indian travel in the region, as religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem combined with politics and tourism, and as changing infrastructures of capitalism and colonialism shifted how Indian visitors experienced Palestine.

Author Biography

Sarah Irving, Staffordshire University

Sarah Irving is Lecturer in International History and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Staffordshire University, the latter an investigation of the 1927 Jericho earthquake and its impacts. Her research focuses on subaltern social and cultural histories of Palestine and the wider Levant in the Late Ottoman and Mandate periods. She is the author or editor of a number of books on the region, most recently The Social and Cultural History of Palestine: Essays in Honour of Salim Tamari (Edinburgh University Press, 2023). She is also editor-in-chief of Contemporary Levant, a journal of the Council for British Research in the Levant.


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