Bombay Slum Tours

The Economist writes about a new concept of tourism in Bombay

Touring Mumbai’s slums Around the corner from Leopold’s, a bar on Colaba Causeway popular among international travellers, lies Reality Tours and Travel. The agency, started by Chris Way, a young British transplant, sells tours of Mumbai’s slum neighbourhoods, promising a unique way to experience the “real” Mumbai.

One option is a budget, three-hour walking tour of Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum, in the central suburb of Mahim. There residents earn a living by making clay pots and soap or recycling the city’s waste. A longer car tour offers more: a visit to a children’s shelter; a stop to watch the city’s dhobis (washermen) at work; a drive past the vast textile mills that are being torn down and replaced with glitzy malls and office blocks; and then on to Dharavi.

These tours are great value-at about $7 for the walking tour and $13 for the one by car-and for a good cause: 80% of the fee goes to a local charity that helps slum dwellers.

Check out their site for the entire details.

9 Comments so far

  1. Mick Gordon (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 10:44 pm

    Fascinating, that is I suppose the polar opposite of the Jamaican tourist resort where you say you have visited Jamaica and yet you really did’nt. I have always wanted to see that place in Bangladesh where they drive the ships up onto the beaches and strip them down.


  2. Mick Gordon (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

    Absolute brilliance, I have just checked out the site – why see a place as everyone else does, you should see the real place. It will be an experience in growing and understanding. You wont really be travelling unless you do adopt this stance.


  3. Viewer (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 11:09 pm

    Pretty inovative idea and also a chance for tourist to see the city frm different angle unlike the usual way people see it – Dirty and overpopulated


  4. anon (unregistered) on August 31st, 2006 @ 6:15 am

    actually I find this pretty offensive–tourism of extreme poverty. If you want to see this part of mumbai, befriend the people who live there and see it through them. It’s not as if you can’t get a fair view of the dirtiness/overpopulation of the city as is–don’t make poverty into a zoo.


  5. Dadoji (unregistered) on August 31st, 2006 @ 11:27 am

    The assumption is that real Mumbai lives in slums. Not true. Slums are a proper subset of the real Mumbai.

    I am happy that 80% of fees go to charity but I am not happy about these tours purporting to show “real” Mumbai.


  6. arZan (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2006 @ 12:40 am

    I think we should step back and not take it so personally. Trying to wear our hearts on our sleeves is not the done thing.

    There are walking tours of red light district in Amsterdam. Does that mean that all of Amsterdam is a red light area ??

    I think if we make foreigners experience first hand, even for a very short duration what life is in poverty, they may have some more respect for their own quality of life and for what they take for granted.

    And if the slums are there….they are there. Trying to shun away or hide, is not the right approach according to me.

    I think these tours are a good thing. I might even go on one, one of these days.


  7. anon (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2006 @ 1:13 am

    I don’t agree. I don’t think a “sight-seeing” tour is appropriate–a one-off experience. Volunteering to do something productive should rather be encouraged, as opposed to gawking.


  8. Dadoji (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2006 @ 9:12 am

    I have no problem with the tour as long as they don’t claim to show the “real” Mumbai. Amsterdam tours don’t claim to show the “real” Amsterdam and even if they do then that, too, is wrong. Imagine the “real” SFO consisting only of Tenderloin. *shudder*


  9. Akshay (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2006 @ 9:35 pm

    I’ve been to Dharavi on many an ocassion.

    People think these tours actually cash on poverty – there where you are wrong, you have visit Dharavi is not a place of poverty it is a place of HOPE and if these tours can bring that out I’m all for them



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