Educational visit to Mumbai’s largest slum
We should start off by saying that this experience certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s far from being a tasteless sightseeing tour. People from all over India live in Dharavi, an industrious, makeshift community that since 1883 has grown into one of Asia’s largest slums. Despite its haphazard nature, the area’s cottage industries are flourishing, and your visit will take you to potteries, soapmakers, bakers and poppadom makers, while your expert guide explains the area’s history, before stopping for a vegetarian lunch with a local family.
What to expect from your Dharavi visit
Dharavi houses around 15% of Mumbai’s 12.5 million residents, and their informal industries generate something in the range of $665 million to $1 billion USD, every year. The slum was established in the 1880s, when polluting industries such as leather tanning were shifted outside what were then the city limits.
Various other industries moved in, drawing economic migrants from all over India, and the result is an extraordinarily diverse community with its own rudimentary train network, religious buildings, and political parties. Although numerous attempts have been made to clear what is now a seriously juicy bit of prime real estate, Dharavi’s residents are holding out to ensure that if they must be relocated, their businesses can go with them.
Our educational walking tours are run by expert guides who have founded three community centres in Dharavi’s residential areas; these provide access to healthcare, education and livelihood opportunities for residents.
Along with visiting cottage industries which range from embroiderers to leather tanners, you will walk through the residential areas, which bear witness to the area’s diversity with their range of religious buildings - pagodas, churches, mosques and temples all sit side by side.
Your guide will pass on a more nuanced understanding of the slum’s life and economy than is often gleaned from the headlines, and your tour will end with a visit to a nearby family home where you can provide a local family with some extra income by sitting down for lunch with them, tucking in the local way by sitting on the floor and eating with your hands.
Location: Dharavi, Mumbai, India
Duration: A morning
Accommodation: Your choice of Mumbai hotel
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'An unparalleled insight into life for the less privileged of Mumbai’s residents, with the chance to give something back on your visit...'
Good to know
While this experience may not appeal to everyone, it’s run by a great ethical organisation, and is an excellent way to bring income directly to the locals who need it the most.