Going offbeat in Mumbai—a trip to Dharavi slum

Almost all the tourists visit Mumbai to explore its beaches, nightlife, monuments and food scene, but how about the idea of ​​visiting a slum for a tour?

This sounds unusual, but there
are takers for this kind of tour, especially among those who would want to see the not-so-appealing (yet progressive) side of Mumbai.

The Dharavi slum in Mumbai is the largest slum in Asia, and the third largest in the world. The place has been in existence even before India gained independence. It used to be populated by both Indian and European workers before independence.

However, the Indian residential colony was deprived of sanitation and quality of life in comparison. It was only after the 1960s that Dharavi witnessed infrastructural growth in terms of residential places. Today, more than 70000 people live in an area of ​​0.8 square miles of Dharavi. It is a slum, where people are bound by a strong sense of community.

Here are some quirky and interesting facts about Dharavi slum:

  • There are several temples, churches, and mosques in Dharavi. There are ample textile businesses, hundreds of potters, more than 700 recycling units, more than a hundred restaurants and much more in Dharavi alone!
Going offbeat in Mumbai—a trip to Dharavi slum

  • There is no fee for gaining entry to Dharavi, but if you wish to have a deeper look into the slum culture, an organized tour would serve the purpose. These tours are conducted by several travel operators. The cost per person for such tours starts INR 600 and go up to INR 9500.
  • Dharavi slum is connected by both the Eastern Express Highway and Mahim West Railway Station.
  • It has a full-fledged plastic recycling unit, which recycles teacups, parts of old telephones etc. which are handled by Dharavi residents.
  • The slum also has units for processing leather; residents also make papad and pottery items.
  • Plastic, aluminum and paint canisters are recycled here. Unfortunately, the work involving chemicals is not only dangerous but also has a lot of workers that are underpaid.
  • The alleys leading to the residential colonies are narrow. Only two people can pass through these alleys at a time. Moreover, most homes have only one room, which is used as a bedroom, living room and kitchen.
  • Shockingly, there is only 1 toilet for every 1400 residents of Dharavi. Thankfully, the homes have regular water and electricity supply.
  • In fact, according to the consensus, about 430 people live per acre of land in Dharavi Slum.

What to look out for in Dharavi?

Going offbeat in Mumbai—a trip to Dharavi slum

So, here are the top attractions you can find in the slum (we are doling these out in advance!):

  • Open air laundry area
  • Small-scale industries
  • Soap and pottery making
  • Shops selling textiles
  • soap works
  • home cooked food

When to visit Dharavi?

Avoid visiting Dharavi in ​​monsoon season as drains tend to overflow here, creating a mess for the passersby.


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