“The World doesn’t look like what you think it looks like”. Slums are indeed the dark side of our country which we can’t boast of. However, in a list named ‘Traveller’s Choice, Experiences 2019’ released by TripAdvisor, Asia’s largest slum “Dharavi” situated in the heart of Mumbai has topped the list beating the iconic Taj Mahal and historical Old Delhi tour.
Though it sounds strange ‘Small group of tour Dharavi slum’ has topped the list of Traveller’s choice in India. Asia’s largest slum has even made it to the “Top 10 Travellers’ Choice Experiences 2019- World and Asia” list going while the destinations like Taj Mahal is not even a part of it. The Dharavi slum is the only Indian destination to appear on the list.
Dharavi was followed by a 'Bike tour of Old Delhi' and a 'Private day tour of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort by a superfast train' at the second and third position respectively on the list of the favorite tourist experiences in India.
In the world category, 'Faster Than Skip-the-Line' in the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica Tour topped the list, while Chicago Architecture River Cruise in USA's Chicago stood at the second position.
The list was compiled from the website’s algorithm that took into consideration reviews and the popularity of the destination than the actual footfall at the location.
It’s interesting that the tour to Dharavi is the only destination of India which is on the list of Asia category. Such tours have indeed become popular after they gained international attention from the movie Slumdog Millionaire which featured Dharavi and went on to win the Oscar. Instances of slums were also seen in the recent movie, Gully Boy. These tours are most popular among travelers who want to explore the city they are visiting, hitting spots beyond popularized destinations.
Asia's largest slum- Dharavi lies right in the middle of India's financial capital, Mumbai. It is home to over a million people who co-exist together in its unending stretch of narrow lanes, open sewers, and cramped huts.
Here are some surprising and interesting facts about the largest slum of Asia, Dharavi which prove that Dharavi is more than just a slum:
The current population of Dharavi is estimated to be between 600,000 to a million.
The land is owned by the government but the houses are maintained by the individuals. Also, Dharavi is said to be one of the most literate slums of India, with a literacy rate of 69%.
A number of movies were shot in the slums of Dharavi and depicted the area.
The Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, Bhootnath Returns, Gully Boy, Kaala, Amir, Kaminey, Salaam Bombay, etc were shot here.
In the 18th Century, Dharavi was an island with predominantly mangrove swamps.
It was a sparsely populated village which was inhabited by the Koli fishermen. Later, the fishing stopped, swamp got filled and Dharavi transformed into what it is now.
Dharavi is the third-largest slum in the world
The first two slums are Mexico’s Neza-Chalco-Itza and Pakistan’s Orangi. Orangi is said to house a population of around 2.4 million people. Around a quarter of the world’s urban population lives in slums.
In Dharavi, there are a total of 4,902 production units bringing in an annual income of around $1 billion
They're divided into 1039 textiles, 932 potters, 567 leather, 498 embroidery, 722 recycling, 111 restaurants and a lot of boutiques. It’s astonishing that there is less than 10% of unemployment in Dharavi.
There is a great unity in the slum
There are 28 temples, 11 mosques, and six churches. Badi Masjid was Dharavi’s first mosque that was built in 1887 and the oldest temple, Ganesh Mandir was built in 1913. Most industries are self-sufficient, but they also support each other. For example, the potters use scraps of cloth from the textile industries as fuel for their kilns.
Residential and Commercial Units in Dharavi
According to a Project Consultant of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project, there are around 45,800 residential units, 330 units that were used for both residential and commercial purposes and around 13,000 commercial units.
“DHARAVI BIENNALE” is an art fest organized by SNEHA
A Mumbai based non-profit organization. The event aims to combine art and science, to highlight the contribution of the people of Asia’s largest slum to India’s economic and cultural life, and to share information on urban health.
Dharavi girls have created Mobile Apps
Yes, it’s true that a group of genius teenager girls made apps, one of them is a learning app called ‘Padai hai Mera hak’ with subjects Maths, Hindi and English. The other two apps are ‘Women Fight Back’ which is an app for women safety and ‘Paani Hai Jeevan’ which gives notification to people when water is available in the community tap so that rush for water can be controlled.
Businessmen from this area have entered the online retail market
Over 200 entrepreneurs from the bustling slum area are now selling their products online by partnering with E-commerce sites.
It is quite clear from the facts that Dharavi is not just a filthy place where poor people live, it is seriously an important place. The guided tours through Dharavi, show the truth of the place and prove that it’s more than just a slum. The tours progress along with the industrial and residential parts of the place. True spirit shines through the filth of the area.
Dharavi indeed has important life lessons to give to the world. Tour providers of Dharavi state “Visitors who expect extreme poverty here as depicted in the movies will be surprised by actually visiting the place. A Tour through Dharavi breaks the stereotypical depiction of slums.”
Have you ever been to any slum? Tell us in the comments below. Book your tickets now with Trainman app to witness the life of the real heroes who live in slums. Download Trainman app and check the PNR status of the booked ticket, Seat availability, Running status and much more.