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Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai, India)

The Dhobi Ghat of Mumbai is a rather unlikely tourist attraction. The city has a network of dhobi-wallahs or washermen who collect dirty laundry from private homes and businesses, wash it, press it and return it to its owners. The most famous of Mumbai’s dhobi ghats is at Saat Rasta close to Mahalaxmi railway station and is used by 200 washermen and their families. The laundry process starts with immersing the dirty linens in concrete wash pens with flogging stones to loosen the dirt. Vats of boiling starchy water or water with hot caustic soda are used to remove stubborn stains and stiffen the fabric. Ironing is carried out with traditional irons heated with coals. There is no formal way to see the ghats and even when President Clinton made a visit he had to view them from a nearby fly-over.

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