A captivating area full of friendly and resourceful people, Dharavi Slum in Mumbai is a ‘must see’. Here’s all the info for visiting.
How To Get To Dharavi Slum
Located in the heart of Mumbai, you can get to Dharavi Slum from any part of the city via various forms of transport including taxi, rickshaw and train.
You can catch a Western City Railways train from Church Gate station and get off at Mahim Station.
From here you will find Dharavi Slum near the overpass around the railway station.
These can be hailed on the street, just make sure to barter and agree a price before you begin your journey.
If you’re willing to explore the slums by yourself then this is the cheapest and easiest option.
Just ask to be dropped close to Dharavi and keep your wits about you whilst in the area.
Dharavi Slum can be a difficult area to navigate without a guide and it’s helpful to understand and remain respectful of the people living there.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
For example the Ethical Dharavi Walking Tour with Options will let you engage with locals and learn about its economic and social realities.
Or, Slumdog Millionaire Tour of Dharavi Slum will take you to where the Oscar winning film, Slumdog Millionaire, was shot.
If you are planning on doing Mumbai alone, with so much to do and see around the capital, it may be worth arranging a Private Car Hire with Professional Driver to explore at ease.
Dharavi Slum Entrance Fee
It’s free to visit Dharavi Slum but I would recommend paying for a tour.
These start from about 6 rupees (£6) per person.
Dharavi Slum Opening Times
Open all day, every day.
Best Time To Visit Dharavi Slum + Tips
I would definitely recommend visiting during daylight hours and go with a local guide.
Probably the best time to go would be between 11am to 2pm or 4pm to 6pm.
Avoid Saturday and Sundays.
Remember to be respectful of the Dharavi residents. They are generally happy to be photographed but it’s best to ask permission first.
What To Pack
Dharavi Slum History
In the 18th century Dharavi was an island, pretty much covered by a mangrove swamp.
Towards the late 19th century it became a fishing village populated by Koli fisherman and was called the village of Koliwada.
The Dharavi Slum started to take shape in 1884, during the British Colonial era, when the colonial government moved factories and locals out of Mumbai city centre. At the same time there was an influx of rural Indians into urban Mumbai.
As a consequence, Dharavi became, and to this day is, a highly diverse settlement, both ethnically and religiously.
What To Expect At Dharavi Slum In Mumbai
Considered to be one of the largest slums in the world, Dharavi Slum covers an area of just over 2 sq km and has a population of approximately 1,000,00.
This makes it one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The whole area is made up of hundreds of narrow lanes that are full of adults, children, small cars scooters and bikes. Creating a real hustle and bustle with everyone busy doing something.
There are various schools within the slum for the children to attend and many of the women are busy washing, cleaning and shopping.
It’s certainly an eye opener to see people managing in such cramped conditions. Most of the homes in the slum consist of two floors separated by wooden boards.
Moreover, the families generally have about ten people sharing these very small homes and thousands of people have to share one toilet.
All along the lanes you will find a hive of industry with small shops, cafes, handicraft workshops as well as people collecting paper, plastic, cardboard and metal to take to recycling plants.
Pretty much everyone has at least one job, with some doing several jobs. There are about 15,000 small businesses in Dharavi, including pottery factories, garment factories, eateries and waste recycling businesses.
The local government regularly clean the Dharavi lanes but with the sheer number of people living in the area, there is rubbish everywhere and blocked drains are a constant problem. Hence there are lots of different smells – not all pleasant!
We had been warned by many not to visit the slums alone, however it was one of the most wholesome and warming experiences of our trip to India.
The locals couldn’t have been friendlier, offering us into their homes, giving us food, and telling us all about the lifestyle within the slums.
The children were happy to act as tour guides and were very enthusiastic to show us around. As you can see most of them wanted photos taking too!
Dharavi Slum is definitely worth visiting if you are in Mumbai to see for yourself the impressive entrepreneurialism and spirit of the people that live here.
For us this was definitely one of the best things to do in India.
Where To Stay In Mumbai
The 5-star Trident Bandra Kurla provides an outdoor swimming pool and full spa services.
Concierge services and room service are available 24 hours. On-site parking is free. Complimentary WiFi is available in all rooms.
Stylish with accents of red, the air-conditioned rooms come with a flat-screen TV, DVD Player and iPod connections.
A minibar and personal safe are also in all rooms. En suite bathrooms come with either a shower or a bathtub.
Trident Bandra Kurla is located in North Mumbai, a 15-minute drive from the domestic airport.
It is a 20-minute drive from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and a 40-minute drive from Western Railway Terminus.
Located in the heart of Mumbai, Residency Hotel Fort is 100 yards from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
It features rooms with a flat-screen TV and 24-hour room service. It also offers a restaurant and a concierge desk with ticketing service.
Residency Hotel Fort is approximately 14.9 miles from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Transfers are available at an extra charge.
The air-conditioned rooms at Hotel Residency come with private bathrooms and ironing facilities. Each room comes with a safety deposit box, a mini fridge and tea/coffee making facilities.
Set in Mumbai, 2.1 miles from Phoenix Market City Mall, Sakinaka Dormitory AC Deluxe offers accommodation with free bikes, free WiFi, a 24-hour front desk, and room service.
This bed and breakfast features air-conditioned accommodation with a balcony.
A buffet breakfast is available every morning at the bed and breakfast.
For more places to stay in Mumbai, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.