Dharavi Slums – A Diamond In The Rough

Asia | | August 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm


Dharavi and its residents were in news headlines as it was a shooting location for the Academy award winning movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIR. Some of the cast of the movie were actual residents of the Dharavi Slums. The vast 530 acre sprawl of Mumbai’s most dubious address, the Dharavi is the abode of nearly 100,000 people and considered the largest slum in Asia. An engaging sight of shanties located amongst the tall rises is widely gaining momentum as the new tourist destination that is an exemplary example of ingenuity in the face of adversity.

Dharavi is not simply a slum but a significant node on the worldwide economy generating approximate annual revenue of 665million dollars through its wide array of manufactured products like ceramics, leather items, tapestry, plastic items, bluejeans amongst several others.

Dharavi with its large squatter populace is flanked by two rail lines on a creek in the north Mumbai that originally was a flourishing fishery. Traipse through the squalid alleys of Dharavi to explore to true backbone of Mumbai though poor is bound to humble many a souls with its bolt of reality in good measure.

North Mumbai

Explore the plastic and metal reprocessing pits of the thirteenth compound located on the eastern side of Mahim Station where one view weighty gear liquefy and cast plastic balls to be transformed into Indian Barbie dolls by several makers.

Get a firsthand account of the tales of Khumbarwada that is home to the original inhabitants of Dharavi, the potter society hailing from Gujarat who had laid base here in 1930 with their collective clay wells and ovens.

The appetizing whiffs of petite bakeries and sweet meat shops, the interesting odours of soaps, cosmetics, perfumeries coupled with the sights of tiny cyber cafes, tailors busy on their sewing machines, small movie parlours that have regular shows of happening Bollywood movies, bars, open air barber shops and the eager children gesturing from their steep loggias.


Venturing through narrow alleys, with huge stretching junkyards, mishmash of stone and concrete dwellings one comes to the jarred realization that despite the glaring twaddle the seemingly systematically arranged 10,000 mostly unregulated industries in varying alleys that provide the inhabitants with jobs depict positivity. Small sized warehouses are used for several activities like tearing down of old computer parts, removal of ball pen cases for reuse, residue removal from metallic casks, foundries and tanneries.

ramesh and wife

With Mumbai boasting of the steepest real estate and rental prices, Dharavi in comparison has rental options dipping as much as four dollars or over two pounds a month, with even the undersized rooms having basic amenities of gas and electricity, though there no apparent garbage management facility in sight with just one toilet being available for every 1,440 persons.

slum tours

Dharavi has as much as half of Mumbai’s eighteen million inhabitants living in its significantly set up slums, a visit through which will dispute the stereotypic image many have of the poor as majorly being criminals or no good.

One can undertake a guided tour known as the Reality Tours through Dharavi wherein the money obtained from the tours are directed to running an educational centre for the underprivileged. The morning and afternoon tours comprise of long stretching walks escorted by guides wherein one is enthralled by numerous interesting facets one gets to view and listen.

Dharavi comes across as a place where individuals honestly work hard for a living, struggling to make ends meet.

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  1. kathy says:

    That is so great.I have never seen this kind of destination. My hope is 2 go 2 Puerto Rico for vacation around the city

  2. vareeja says:

    In expensive Mumbai, Dharavi provides a cheap, but illegal, alternative where rents were as low as 4 US dollars per month in 2006. Dharavi exports goods around the world. The total turnover is estimated to be between 500 million US dollars and over 650 million US dollars per year.
    An urban redevelopment plan is proposed for the Dharavi area, managed by American-trained architect Mukesh Mehta

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