The Dhobi Ghat is a huge outdoor "laundromat" located in the Mahalaxmi area of Mumbai. Each day it is estimated that a half a million pieces of clothing are sent here from various places - hospitals, hotels, private homes - even "new" clothes from stores - to be beaten clean, hung to dry, and pressed to crisp perfection.
When I first moved to Mumbai many years ago my Indian friends found it extremely amusing that the Dhobi Ghat was actually a hot tourist spot foreigners. Most of them still do.
The Dhobi Ghat is most often viewed from the flyover bridge of Mahalaxmi (railway) station. From that vantage point you will see the rows of open-air concrete wash tubs. The dhobis soak the clothes in the soapy water then beat the clothes on the flogging stone, which has been fitted in the wash tub. After being rinsed, the clothes are hung to dry before each piece is ironed.
There are a couple of hundred dhobis (and their families) that work and live at the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat. It is an occupation that is passed down from generation to generation. And although you will see some modern laundry machines at ground level, most of the laundry is still done by hand.
What I found most amazing about the Dhobis - much like the Dabbawallas - is their system. The clothes are marked - usually on the inside of the garment - with a code. This code identifies the owner and amazingly you get the correct laundry back. When you think of how many garments are washed each day AND how many hands a garment passes through - from the time it's picked up from your home to the time it's returned, that's pretty remarkable! I always thought having all my clothes ironed was such a luxury - one of the things I loved most about living in Mumbai! :-)
If you want to see the dhobis in action the best time to visit is in the morning. Beginning in the early afternoon is the best time to see the clothes hanging to dry. Rows and rows of the same color and/or type of clothes - all jeans in a group, all hotel white towels together, all purple tops, etc., etc.
Special tip: while most visitors are content to snap photos from the flyover bridge, if you really want to get close to the action go down the stairs to the entrance of the Dhobi Ghat (bottom of the stairs and make a left, short walk). For Rs 100 or so you are taken on a impromptu guided tour. Most people do not even know about this so it really is a "private" tour. The dhobis are very friendly and you can take as many photos as you want. The guide will happily answer all your questions as well.
Even if my Indian friends find it amusing, I still think it's a pretty cool place to visit.
Please see my Mumbai travelogues (below) for Dhobi Ghat photos.
Dhobi Ghat is a place where lots of clothes and linen in Mumbai is washed by hand. Washing has been done here for 140 years and there are over 1000 concrete wash troughs where the washing is done by the Dhobis, washmen. It is a fascinating place to visit and it becomes very colourful when everything washed is hanged to dry.
Dhobi Ghat is situated 4-5 km north of Colaba. I decided to walk there from Colaba as I would see different parts of Mumbai as I passed. But going back I took the train from Mahalaxmi Train Station, which is just next to Dhobi Ghat, to the end station at Churchgate.
Walking to Mahalaxmi Train Station you will get great views from the bridge over Dhobi Ghat.
1026 troughs + hundreds of people = washing machine!
Every day thousands of kgs of dirty clothes come to the Dhobi Ghat and are beaten and scrubbed, hung out to dry, folded and returned to sender... whites are whites and coloureds are bright. The system of getting the correct laundry back to the right person must be absolutely fantastic because this really is the biggest (himan) washing machine in the world - it covers the entire hamlet. It is awesome to watch and best seen from the Mahalaxmi train stations bridge.
This was the one thing I really wanted to see in Mumbai and the one thing I am pleased to have seen! I was left gobsmacked with the efficiency but hastled by the swarm of children wanting me to buy from them!
I "did" laundry in Mumbai... I am supposing it came via here ^^
Here, next to the busy Mahalaxhmi train stop, you find a colony of people devoted to the cleaning of Mumbai’s laundry. The washing takes place in rows of concrete tubs, surrounded by drying laundry. It all takes place out in the open, which makes me wonder what the place looks like during the monsoon season. Best time for viewing is probably on Sunday as the spot from which you look out over the site is from a road viaduct which becomes a traffic choke point during the work week. Notice that even here, surrounding apartment buildings threaten to encroach upon the cleaning site.
The one place that i must say, is absolutely unique to Mumbai will have to be the Dhobi Ghaut. Dhobi Ghat literally means a place for washing in the hindi language. The dhobi ghaut in Mumbai is a place where you will find rows and rows of small washing areas (rented by individuals from the city authority) for dirty laundry to be washed and 'beaten' on stones. Individuals will pick up the clothes from various establishments and clients, get them washed and dried; (and ironed for extra charges) and delivered back to the clients to their doorsteps. The price per piece of laundry is about 15 sen (which is nothing at all in US$).
Dhobi Ghat is an amazing sight. Row upon row of washing. This is where Mumbai’s laundry is done by hand and in concrete sinks. No driers here, everything is hung and dried in the sun as it has been over the centuries.
Dhobi ghat , where all the cloths from mumbai come for cleaning purpose. I dont know why it is so attractive to outsiders but yeah its really a tourist attraction. I saw this place for first time when my vt'er friend (bob and fran) told me that they wanted to see this place. Most difficult thing over here is parking place but any how we managed it. Picture of this place will describe all to you. Its just a 2 min walk from mahalaxmi station ( where race course situated) .
Hundreds of people working at this traditional outdoor laundry make a colorful site.
it is billed as the worlds largest outdoor laundry. Hotels and hospitals send their laundry here for processing