Our first impressions of the Dharavi Slum.Mumbai

This was the first view that we had of the slum.
We stood at the top of a flight of stairs and were immediately absorbed
by this cauldron of activity.
The constant hooting of vehicles and scooters was just background
to the overwhelming sense of purpose and community that this area engenders.
Built in 1883 to house the influx of rural Indians to Mumbai,
this 3.1 sq km area is home to almost 1 million people.
The four main industries here bring in an annual turnover of $1b.
It has suffered many epidemics, including the plague that in 1896
 killed more than half the population of Mumbai.
Many of the scenes from the 2008 film “Slumdog Millionaire” were shot here.
Dharavi is home to a diverse population.
They are multi religious and multi ethnic,
coming as they do from all over India.
That is why there are a variety of religious buildings and
the people seem to have created a community that works in harmony.
In the 18th century, this area was an island, covered in mainly mangrove swamps.


This might look like a chaotic intersection…
however, patience seemed to win and eventually everyone moved on.
I was amazed at just how forgiving the Indian drivers actually are.
Incidents that in the West might lead to road rage and possible injury
are treated as “normal” here.
In our entire 12 day stay in India, I only saw two accidents,
neither of which had fatalities.


There are 4 main industries here in Daharavi…
Plastic recycling seems to be the predominate one.
The incoming plastics of all shapes and sizes are crushed,
washed and dried before being sent of to major factories
 where they are turned into pellets,
which will then be used in various plastics manufacturing industries.
This image shows two of the locals washing the crushed plastic by hand.
All of the end product is dried on the roofs of the houses,
before being sent off for processing.
The work is dirty, labour intensives and almost infinite,
as the amount of plastic being brought in seems endless.
The second major industry is leather work.
There is a leather outlet that has the most stunning products.
They would not look out of place in any high end boutique
in a major city in the West.
This is the bag that I bought my wife as a birthday gift.
Made of water buffalo leather is cost the princely sum of  $17.00!
My only regret of the entire trip is that I did not buy myself a briefcase here.


There is a thriving textile industry that can be found
in almost every nook and cranny of the alleyways.
Often the staff work in shifts, and those that are off duty sleep on the premises.
If you can visualise a garment or an item,
it can probably be made here.
The interiors of suitcases and bags were being constructed here.

Pottery is the final major industry in Dharavi.
It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes
and is mainly made of the local terracotta clay.

There are MANY barber shops in the slum.
Several chairs and no waiting was the order of the day


Education plays a very important part in the lives of the children here.
Yes. they might be living in a slum,
but they have pride in their uniforms and their opportunity for an education.
Many of the child actors in the 2008 Danny Boyle movie “Slumdog Millionaire”,
were from this slum.
Our tour guide in Mumbai was Salmani Oves.
He lives in Dharavi and we were privilaged
to have been invited to his home to meet his family.
Our trip itinerary was superbly handled by this travel company.
And specifically by Mr Aman, their Senior Travel Advisor
I would highly recommend that you contact them,
should you be considering a trip to India.
For more information on what they offer,
visit their website:

This is the hotel that we stayed at during our stay in Mumbai.
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