Dharavi slum was the biggest slum in the world for a long time. It holds 600.000 up to 1 million people. This is an estimate ofcourse because nobody really knows.. There are so many houses and places where people live that they can not count exactly. When I visited Mumbai I had to visit this Dharavi slum and see and experience it for myself!!
At a certain point the gouvernment wanted control back in the Mumbai slum. They stated that everybody that had a house at that point got an adress. After that nobody could build a house for itself without persmission. You can imagine what happened, they still build houses ofcourse…but they don’t get an adress on paper.. And officially they don’t have electricity and other facilities. They arrange everything for eachother so this doesn’t stop the growth of this biggest Mumbai slum
A Walk in the Biggest Slum of Asia: Dharavi Slum
On an annual bases Dharavi slum makes around 665 milion dollar. This Mumbai slum is an active and healthy one if you look at that number.. There is a lot of activity and there are thousands of small businesses in the small and narrow streets. But many of these businesses are illegal. The way they do their work is not of this time and age anymore. There are no rules it seems.. the biggest part of the work is done in a very unhealthy way.
This is one of the reasons that they don’t want you to make any pictures during this walk in Dharavi Slum. Reality Tours agreed to this with the locals and so they agree with the walk near and sometimes through their shops or factories. The factory owners are scared that the gouvernment sees what is going on at some places and will close it…or ask for taxes ..
Dharavi Slum exports goods around the world
Even with an industry this big and that much money there is a lot of poverty in Dharavi slum. To give you an idea, there are only 700 toilets in this huge slum…and yes you are counting right….600.000 people are living there. It is unbelievable. The local gouvernment should clean this ofcourse but sometimes they won’t come and clean. For safety reasons and health issues the gouvernment should act and take its responsibility!
The water supply is also a problem.
They get an unlimited amount of water supply….twice a day. In the morning and in the evening they get fresh water, this rule is necessary because otherwise it will be a muddy mess in Dharavi slum. The watertap is community accesible and sometimes they won’t close the tap. To store water for the rest of the day they have tents. These are at the same area where the toilets are.. I can’t imagine that to be a healthy manner… but they have no other way to keep it.
Dharavi Slum has severe Public Health problems
I asked what happens if there is a fire.. Because I didn’t see any safety regulations what so ever. I got answered that they would stop that quickly because there is always someone in the area. It is busy and so there are no stories of big accidents. I can hardly believe that. Everybody knows that a fire can go really quick and especially when it gets hot…as it does in the biggest Mumbai Slum.. But no, he was clear about it…there are no big accidents and things are put to an end quickly..
Search on the internet gives me other information unfortunately.
The area we were walking was a Muslim area of Dharavi slum and after we were going to the Hindu part of the Mumbai slum. This part is so much cleaner and saver. They do have a private owned bathroom in their house and do have running water for private use. How is this possible? In these families the father and the mother are both working.
What struck me most was that the females are working for the muslim factories but because they are female have to do the work at their own house. Even better probably, they can take care of children when they come home from school and work and earn money in between.
The area was clean, nice coloured and looked really good!
Dharavi slum is working on a Good Future
Walking in the Mumbai slum I felt safe. I had eye contact with a lot of Dharavi slum citizins and those contacts were smiles and we were waving to eachother. A worker from a small clothing studio wanted to have his picture taken with me. Great!! We couldn’t make any pictures so I didn’t make one but I love to see those people somewhere on the internet 🙂
Searching on #Dharavi #DharaviSlum on IG will show you all kinds of images!
After the Dharavi Slum Tour we went to a school which they support with the money they earn with the Tours. They’ve got two schools, an adult one and a children school. Really good! They give interview lessons or computer lessons to adults. The skills adults need most to get a job outside the biggest Mumbai slum.
Good to see such progress!!
Is it safe to visit Dharavi Slum?
When walking with a local guide it is totally safe to visit Dharavi Slum. I wouldn’t recommend going in by yourself though. The ‘streets’ aren’t easy to follow and I think you easily be lost in the whirlpool of small alleys of this Mumbai Slum.
Do remember that you are here in the most poor area of Mumbai and that you are the rich tourist. Everything that you have with you is something they might never be able to have. It is because of that a risk to go walking by yourself as you don’t know which streets/alleys are good to go and which are defenitely not.
I recommend going by a guided tour into the Dharavi Slum and that way see the spots that are worth a visit and hear about life in the biggest Mumbai slum.
Information and Pictures of the Dharavi Slum
I really felt welcome in Dharavi slum. I can recommend taking this tour and especially with Reality Tours. I booked this online and got an answer within hours. I had the tour the day after!
The Dharavi Slum Tour has rule that you can not make any pictures while you’re with them in the slum. But they do provide you some great pictures! Some of them were used in this post.
Do you want to read more of my India adventures?
Travel Guide New Delhi
Tips for Women – Safe Travel in India
The best Place to Spot Tigers – Ranthambore NP
Srinagar and the Gorgeous Dal Lake
Travel Itinerary 2 Weeks Kerala
First you want to see more of Mumbai?
Check my Travel Guide Mumbai!
The Complete Travel Guide for Mumbai – India
I hope you enjoy this world as much as I do!