Photographer's Note

Mumbai - A temple in Dharavi

Dharavi is a slum and since 2004 also an administrative unit of Mumbai.
It is estimated that more than one million people live there.
In Mumbai they say Dharavi is the largest slum in Asia. But according to Wikipedia it is Orangi Town in Karachi, Pakistan.

When my pictures here do not seem to be the typical image of a slum, I want to mention that Dharavi with an area of 175 hectares has - according to Indian standards ! – ‘reasonable areas’, ‘poor areas’ and ‘very poor areas’.
Today I’m showing a few nice pictures. The atmosphere in and around this temple was also very pleasant. I do have other photos of Dharavi but I’m not really sure they will be popular here.
(On the other hand, being popular isn’t important.)

Dharavi in the movie:
Dharavi has been depicted in a number of Hindi films produced by the Mumbai film industry. These include:
- Salim-Javed films such as ‘Deewaar’ (1975)
- Mira Nair's ‘Salaam Bombay!’ (1988) where several child actors were from the Dharavi slum
- Vidhu Vinod Chopra's ‘Parinda’ (1989)
- Sudhir Mishra's ‘Dharavi’(1991)
- Ram Gopal Varma's ‘Indian Gangster Trilogy’ (1998–2005) and ‘Sarkar’ series (2005–2008)
- Vikram Bhatt's ‘Footpath’ (2003)
- Anurag Kashyap's ‘Black Friday’ (2004) and ‘No Smoking’ (2007)
- Madhur Bhandarkar's ‘Traffic Signal’ (2007)
- Rajeev Khandelwal's ‘Aamir’ (2008)
and other films based on the Mumbai underworld.

In western countries Dharavi is better known from Danny Boyle's 2008 film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
Several of the child actors in the film are from the Dharavi slum.

My guidebook mentioned it was possible to visit Dharavi on your own.
It is safe. But it is not easy to find your way and taking pictures could become difficult when you’re by yourself.
Many Indian travel agencies offer tours to Dharavi. After ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Dharavi became relatively interesting for visitors. But for some incomprehensible reason these tours were very expensive. I tried to bargain but wasn’t very successful.
So I asked in my hotel. They knew someone who could guide me in Dharavi and that for a better price.

This man was born in Kerala, South India but he moved to Mumbai and had lived during six years in Dharavi. Then he found a better job and another place to live elsewhere in the city.

In Dharavi there are families who have lived there for generations. But to a large extent it is also a transit district. People come from elsewhere in India, live in Dharavi for a certain time (this can be years) and then move on to a better location in Mumbai.

The fact that my guide has lived there for six years was a plus for me.
We met several people he knew and everyone was friendly and courteous.
The first place where we went to was this small temple. Actually, most people on the pictures are standing or sitting in the street, a covered and festively decorated street. You see the entrance of the temple which was really a very small one.
This temple was mainly visited by people from Kerala and Tamil Nadu who live in Mumbai.

Upon arriving, I felt a bit less at ease. I feared to be disturbing.
But when I saw the smiling face of my guide who was so happy he brought me there and when I met friends of him, this became one of my best experiences in Mumbai.

It was also one of my most colourful experiences.
Certain parts of Dharavi may be gray.
So basically, these pictures here are not representative of the whole. But Dharavi is not a homogeneous district and on the other hand you can say: This too is Dharavi !

Information from Wikipedia, the LP-guide and the man who guided me in Dharavi.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6794 W: 24 N: 16055] (62892)
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