Made famous by the movie Slumdog Millionaire, the Mumbai slum of Dharavi is one of the largest informal settlements in the world. The 500-acre district, established in the center of the city in the 1880s during the British colonial era, is home to a tight-knit community of about a million, many of whom produce textiles, leather crafts, and handmade pottery for a thriving informal economy.
Wander the narrow pathways between sheet iron structures in Dharavi to gain insight into the melting pot that is one of the world’s largest slums, home to many small-scale industries. While educational, a walk through the quarter may be overwhelming for outsiders, so it’s best to visit the slum with a local English-speaking guide who can highlight the experience with context and insight into daily life and show how residents use their ingenuity and creativity to reside in an otherwise challenging socioeconomic environment. Choose a private or small-group walking tour of the slum, or visit as part of a Mumbai sightseeing tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This neighborhood offers travelers the opportunity to learn about the history of the area and gain a well-rounded understanding of Mumbai.
- Proceeds from Dharavi tours of the slum often go back to the local community.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking on uneven surfaces.
How to Get There
Dharavi is situated in the northern suburbs of Mumbai between the Western and Central Railways lines. While it’s possible to visit the area independently, it’s quite easy to get lost in the maze of streets and narrow alleys, so it’s much safer to visit with a tour guide.
When to Get There
The most pleasant time to visit Dharavi Slum (and Mumbai as a whole) is during winter, from November to February, when the weather is mild and dry. Expect temperatures upwards of 100°F (38°C) in May, and frequent—sometimes continuous—rainfall during July and August monsoons.
A Note on the Ethics of Slum Tourism
We are sensitive to the issues and concerns surrounding slums, and we understand that tours of them may not be suitable for everyone. We strongly believe that these tours are educational and allow for a better understanding of Indian life inside Dharavi.