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Known to many as ‘one of the largest slums in Asia’, we prefer to think of Dharavi as Mumbai’s beating heart. It houses about one million of Mumbai’s inhabitants and its industries have an annual turnover of approximately US$ 665 million.
Through our educational walking tours, visitors experience a wide range of these business activities: recycling, pottery-making, embroidery, bakery, soap factory, leather tanning, poppadom-making and many more.
We’ll also visit the residential areas of Dharavi. People from all over India have come to live in Dharavi, making it a microcosm of India. This diversity is apparent in the temples, mosques, churches and pagodas that stand side by side.
Our three community centres that are funded through the profits from the tours are also located in the residential area. We will visit one of them and you will learn about the programs that our NGO, Reality Gives, offers the community.
Our 2.5 hour introduction to Dharavi aims to give visitors a much more nuanced understanding of life and work in Mumbai slums. You can also add a lunch with a local family after the morning tour. Not only will you get additional insight into Dharavi, but you’ll provide a local family with some extra income!
In the afternoon we will show you other, more traditional sights that Mumbai has to offer. For a list of what sights we generally see in the afternoon, see our Sightseeing by Car page.
This tour is individually designed for you, and you can do and see as little or as much as you please. The tour guide, who also has detailed knowledge of the more traditional sights, will be with you for the day. He can give some suggestions for what to see, but ultimately, the itinerary is completely up to you.
As we travel to Dharavi by car, we’ll stop and see the world’s largest outdoor laundry. We’ll see the dhobiwallahs, or washermen, scrubbing sheets from Mumbai’s largest hospitals and hotels at this busy open air laundry area!
Metal and plastic comes from all over the world to Dharavi to be recycled. See the entire recycling process from sorting to the finished plastic pellets.
The tin hutments that house so many human lives stretch on as far as you can see. You will never forget this view!
Our Community Centre, supported by funds from the tour, provides education in English, computers and life skills to the teenagers and young adults of Dharavi. Other activities such as sports, dancing, and yoga are also hosted at our community centres
Your choice where to go! For a list of what sights we generally see in the afternoon, see our Sightseeing by Car page.
Your hotel or residence.
Our office is located on Nowroji Fardonji Road which is the street next to Leopold’s Cafe. You will see our signboard attached to a light pole. Our office is located in the building behind SSS Corner Store. We meet in front of the large blue SSS Corner Store sign. (Photo One, Two)
Your hotel or residence.
Warning: Be wary that there are other tour operators on the street that may claim to be Reality Tours. You will recognize our guide by the light blue button down shirt with our logo on it.
Exact timings are flexible and up to you, but the tour will be 9 hours so an early start is a good idea!
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.
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.
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 have a strict no camera policy in order to respect the privacy of the local residents. Dharavi has received a lot of attention from the media and the residents are very wary of being exploited. The policy may be considered strict but our relationship with the Dharavi community has been built over a number of years based on mutual respect. We do not wish for even the occasional photo as it could be incorrectly perceived as our starting to permit general photography on our tours. We can, however, send you 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 to 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.
Absolutely! Our tour timings were decided with this in mind. Have a look at the timings for the tours and let us know!
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.
Unfortnately, the slum and sightseeing tour is a private tour only.
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.
Booked this tour with a work colleague as wanted to see the highlights of Mumbai in a day. Chose the optional visit to the Mumbai Slums.
Fantastic tour guide called Alam and excellent driver. Particularly enjoyed Ghandi Museum, laundry, Gateway to India and the slums.