Inside Mumbai: Kumbharwada, Dharavi

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The beauty of Mumbai isn’t in the fashion weeks, page 3 parties or Bollywood movies… The beauty of Mumbai, lives in the streets… In the hidden alleys and by lanes!


Kumbarwada… is a “Potter’s Colony” inside the famous Dharavi – the largest slum in Asia. And yet, Kumbarwada is far from being a slum… It’s a village! A village within India’s largest metropolitan city! It’s a settlement created hundreds of years ago but migrants from Gujrat and Kutchh… Each of whom, shaped earth for a living.


Today, Kumbarwada is still inhabited by the younger generations of these Potter’s and while the old stone wheels have been replaced by electric ones, pottery still remains their only profession.


Am not sure how many of you have actually been there. Just the fact that it’s in Dharavi… makes it ‘unsafe’ or ‘not worthy’ of a visit, for most Mumbaikars themselves!


I myself, haven’t bothered going there in the last 32yrs of my life! And even now, I only went there, with a lot of skepticism … almost expecting to find nothing of major interest!

But walking into the insides of Kumbarwada, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of the wares that lined every nook n corner and the hands that created them.



The craft, the skill and the technique mastered by these people is something you & I can only dream of creating… And yet, is so underrated…! (Let’s just think back at the last time we ‘felt’ that the earthen pots selling on the crossing were ‘too expensive’ or the last time we bargained for the earthen diyas (lamps)to be given to us at INR 5 instead of INR 7!!)


We reached Kumbarwada around 9am and it was already bustling with activity… Peak business hours… “Dhande ka time hai” as they said… where the men would mold the clay on their wheels, while the women carried them out n placed them for baking…!


Surprisingly, what to my eyes was pure, extraordinary art… For them, was just ‘skill’. And a means to earn money. They didn’t think of it as art! No one called themselves a ‘kaarigar’! (artist) They were all proudly known only by their profession … ‘kumbhar’ – Potter!



Every stain… every puddle of dirt… Every tattered pile of soiled gunny bags… Speaks of craft, technique and skill that you and I can only dream of creating and yet take so much for granted…




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While posing for this picture, I had a kumbhar, sitting right next to me working his wheel! He didn’t wanna be photographed but was more than on letting me into his house. I accidentally dropped my new pixel 2 XL onto one of his pots, which to my horror, was wet… And got totally disfigured due to the impact. I looked at him half expecting him to shout n shoo me out… Instead, he smiled n said, “koi baat nahi… Fir ban jaayega” 🙂



This beautiful Saree that I’m wearing… is a Handpainted Kerala Kavasu saree created by Chitranka Chowdhary of Artfully Your’s by Chitranka.

I thought it was apt for this location, not just because of the way it stands out, but also because only a work of pure art can do justice to a place with such character.





All these pictures are the works of Sonalee Das.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post… This is the 1st of my ‘Inside Mumbai’ series… Next up, is Chor Bazaar – The Thieve’s market in Mumbai! So do come back for that 🙂




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About Me

Sonal is a Post Graduate in Luxury Brand Management from Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing, Florence (Italy) and has over 9 years of experience as a Brand Strategist working in the advertising industry.

She has also been a Consumer Insights Miner specializing in fashion and luxury brands.