We focus on the small scale industries in Dharavi, such as recycling, the making of clay pots, embroidery, bakery, soap factory, leather tanning, papad (poppadom) making and many others, most of which take place in very small spaces. We also pass by the residential areas, where you really get a feel of how the people live and the sense of community that exists in the area. People from all over India and from all religions live in Dharavi, and you will see
this diversity. On the tour you will pass Hindu temples, mosques and churches in the area. When open, we visit the social projects run by our sister organisation and NGO Reality Gives, such as the community centre. It is quite an adventure to pass through the narrow alleys and you will almost certainly lose your sense of direction!
Although we cannot take responsibility should anything happen, we believe that the places that we visit are very safe. There are a lot of people in Dharavi (one million approximately in an area of 0.7 square miles) and there is a strong police presence in the area. Dharavi is generally full of hard-working, honest people, although for security purposes we ask you not to take valuables with you on the tour.
Travelling through Dharavi is a real adventure, but in the small alleys you have to be careful of low hanging roofs, open drains, and occasionally exposed electric wires. Also, in some of the factories that we visit there are fumes that can be hazardous. Since April 2014 we have been tracking whether our guests felt safe throughout the tour on our post-tour questionnaire; 99.7% of our guests felt completely safe throughout the tour.
With the very high density of population and the limited infrastructure and sanitation facilities, there are areas which are quite dirty and smelly. We ask you to wear covered shoes. What is the maximum number of people on the tours? - Five for the long tour. Six on the short tour.
We recommend that you wear covered shoes as some areas can be dirty, especially during the monsoon months from June to mid September. We ask ladies to dress modestly which means no sleeveless shirts, short shorts, or low tops.
We like to go into Dharavi and be as inconspicuous as possible. We do this by having small groups and by not allowing cameras. We want to be respectful of the residents of Dharavi, or to anyone else on the tour. We understand that customers can often judge situations and decide whether it is appropriate to take a photo or not, but offence can be taken despite this and not necessarily by the subject of the photograph. If customers want, after the tour we can send them a link to Dharavi photos which can be downloaded. There is also the opportunity to buy postcards and photos at the end of the tour, proceeds from which go for the community projects in the area.
We don't sell or ask you to buy any products made by the residents of Dharavi on the tour. We don't want you to feel obliged to buy anything. If there is anything in particular that you find interesting on the tour, then by all means you can speak to the guide and he can help you buy it. There is also the opportunity to buy postcards and other merchandise at the end of the tour, proceeds from which go to community projects in the area.
There are health hazards highlighted above which children need to be very aware of. Otherwise we see no problem with bringing children of any age on the tour. Indians are very welcoming and receptive to young people.
Yes it is possible to visit Dharavi on your own, and in our opinion it is safe to do so. However you will not know the best places to go, the area is like a maze and you will not gain the same insight as with one of our guides. I hear that Dharavi is going to be redeveloped. Will I still be able to see the area? - The redevelopment plan has been stalled many times and now it looks like the original plan has been scrapped and a new one is being suggested. Due to the value of the land in Dharavi now, some say that redevelopment in some form is inevitable but there are still a lot of issues to be resolved and the developers have still not been announced. It should be possible to visit Dharavi even while the development (which would take several years) takes place.
- Yes, it's perfectly possible. Look at the timings for the tours and let us know!
- On the long tour you travel in the comfort of an a/c car. We leave from Colaba (the main tourist area) and head to Dharavi, passing areas of interest en route such as a boys' shelter, Kamathipura (red light area) and Dhobi Ghat (big open air laundry). The guide explains about these places and other issues facing the less privileged members of Indian society. On the short tour, we provide no transport. You either have to meet the guide at the Dharavi slum (Mahim Junction), or at Churchgate Station (near Colaba) from where you would travel by train with him to Dharavi. On both tours we spend about 2.5 hours going around Dharavi on foot.
For the long tour, total time is approximately 4.5 hours. This includes transport to Dharavi and back from our office in Colaba, or to and from your hotel. For people staying in Colaba, if you were to catch the train/taxi to Dharavi from Colaba, the transport time would be approximately 50 mins to an hour each way, so the total time to do the short tour and the long tour is approximately the same.
On the normal long tour, you need to meet outside our office in Colaba at the stipulated time. On the private long tour, other visitors do not come on the tour with you. We come to your hotel or residence to pick you up and we drop you back. The tour is more flexible as well to what you want to see. Since we pass by areas of interest between Colaba and Dharavi, to get the most out of the private long tour, it is best to start from Colaba, Fort or Marine Drive. For tourists staying in other parts of Mumbai who wish to do the private long tour and hence be picked up from their hotel, we can advise on what will and will not be included in the tour depending on the location of your hotel.
Unfortnately, the slum and sightseeing tour is a private tour only.
The sightseeing tour is a private tour. There isn't the demand currently to do a shared tour. I am staying in Colaba. Where should I meet for the short tour? The easiest place to meet the guide is at Churchgate station- this is a 15-20 minute walk from Colaba.
The easiest place to meet the guide is at Mahim station. This is 35 minutes/35 minutes/20 minutes by taxi from the airport/Juhu/Bandra in the afternoon (50 minutes/50 minutes/30 minutes in morning) and will cost approximately Rs 200/Rs 200/Rs 60 (by non-a/c taxi if you go by meter). Check out our map (linked to map page) for more info.
- If you wish to do the shared long tour (with other people), you need to be at our office at 8.30am. It will take about 80 minutes/80 minutes/60 minutes to reach by taxi so it would be an early start! If you still wish to go, then you might consider making your own way back to your hotel/residence after the Dharavi part of the tour. If you wish to do a private long tour, then we would pick you up from your hotel/residence, but only the Dharavi part of the trip would be covered (ie. you would not see the red-light area and open-air laundry. There would also be an additional charge of Rs 300- Rs 600 to cover the extra distance that our car would have to come. If you wish to do a private long tour and also see the other parts of the tour such as the red-light area and the open-air laundry, then contact us and we will try to arrange something. Check out our map (linked to map page) for more info.
- Dharavi is situated between Mahim and Sion - two areas at the northern tip of South Mumbai, just before the suburbs commence (Bandra and Kurla). It is sandwiched between the Western and Central Railway lines. It is about 10km south of the International Airport and 18km north of Colaba, the main tourist area. Check out our map (linked to map page) for more info.
FROM COLABA: • By train: it is a 15-20 minute walk to Churchgate station and then it takes approximately 45 minutes to buy the ticket and catch a "slow train" to Dharavi (Mahim Junction). • By taxi: By taxi it takes about 50 minutes to an hour (cost approximately Rs 200) FROM AIRPORT AREA: • By train: Too complicated!! • By taxi (note: by auto-rickshaw not possible): it takes about 35 minutes in the afternoon, and 50 minutes in the morning (cost approximately Rs 100). FROM JUHU: • By train: you need to go to Vile Parle or Santa Cruz Station and catch a "slow train" to Mahim Junction. Total time approx 30 mins. • By taxi (note: by auto-rickshaw not possible): it takes about 35 minutes in the afternoon, and 50 minutes in the morning (cost approximately Rs 100)