The spirit of Dharavi

Tour Time: 2 hours

This tour takes you to Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum, home to nearly a million people. In spite of the grime and the squalor, Dharavi is an area bustling with activity, with an economy estimated to be worth US $ 500 million, and many rags-to-riches stories.

Dharavi was not always a slum, and it is as old as Bombay. The original inhabitants of Dharavi were kolis, the fisher folk, who lived at the edge of the creek that came in from the Arabian Sea. A dam at Sion, adjacent to Dharavi, caused the creek to dry up. Dharavi’s fisher folk were deprived of their traditional sustenance, and the newly emerged land from the marshes provided space for new communities to move in.

The first migrants were people from Maharashtra, and in particular from the Konkan coast, as well from Gujarat.

Potters from Saurashtra were allocated land in Dharavi to establish what is even today called Kumbharwada.

The other settlers were direct migrants to the city, many of them trained in a trade or a craft. Muslim tanners from Tamil Nadu migrated to Dharavi and set up the leather tanning industry.

Other artisans, like the embroidery workers from Uttar Pradesh, started the ready-made garments trade. From Tamil Nadu, workers joined the flourishing business of making savouries and sweets.

On this tour, you can see the people of Dharavi, their homes, their work places, and their spirit. This is a fascinating tour – but not for the squeamish.

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