Active + Adventure

Controversial Tourist Attractions

by Bob Payne

Dharavi Slum Tour
Mumbai, India

The infamy: This 432-acre sprawl, one of the biggest slums in Asia and the setting for the international blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire, is noted for its tunnel-like alleyways, its open sewage, and its range of smells that in no way resemble perfume.

Tasteless tourism? Walking tours pass the tiny huts where people live and even tinier, telephone booth–size shops where they work. Despite the extreme destitution, Dharavi is an area not so much of despair as of hopeful industry: By some accounts, the area's thousands of enterprises, many of which involve recycling the castoffs of a more affluent society, earn more than $665 million annually. While the Dharavi tour operator insists that profits are reinvested in the area, some visitors might still feel uncomfortable about goggling other people's poverty.

Why go? In addition to demonstrating that the human spirit can survive in the most squalid conditions, a tour of Dharavi shows you a side of India that is hard to comprehend from your luxury hotel room. The tour operator donates 80 percent of its profits to the poor of Mumbai, funding projects such as a community center and kindergarten.

Reality Tours and Travel, $10 for a 90-minute tour.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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