Photos: Revisiting Mumbai's Dhobi Ghat
Aamir Khan's movie 'Dhobi Ghat' featured a segment about Mumbai's iconic 140-year-old open air laundry. The laundry is still being operated by the city's human powered washing machines commonly known as 'Dhobis'. Located in the vicinity of Mahalaxmi railway station in South Mumbai, hundreds of people from across the city have been sending their clothes to Dhobi Ghat over the past several years.
Interestingly, clothes that come to Dhobi Ghat typically come from different segments of the city- hospitals, hotels and houses, since Mumbai was Bombay. The washermen, called the 'dhobis', operate the laundry out of the hub of the bustling financial capital.
The Dhobi Ghat also serves as the residence for the dhobis. The spetacular sight of the dhobis and their families in the area that is known as Dhobi Ghat is a spectacular sight.
The dedicated dhobis have a unique way of sorting and washing clothes. A code is written on the rear of every garment. The code writing technique is not only unique, but also an efficient way of returning the clothes to their owners. Once the clothes are sported, they are soaked in soapy water.
Following this, the dhobis beat the clothes on a cemented slab to take out any stains and dirt. All clothes are washed in a similar fashion. It is then taken for rinsing and drying. They are then hung out to dry on the ropes tied accross the Dhobi Ghat
The birth of Dhobi Ghat dates back to the British rule. It entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011.
In order to be a 'dhobhi' a child must be a member of a Dhobi family, and must adhere to certain standards set.
The occupation of dhobis in this iconic laundry has been passed down through geneartions. This science behind washing clothes played an imporant role for the entire city, especially for the surrounding areas during the olden times.
The heritage structure is a popular attraction site in Mumbai. Tourists visiting the city from different parts of India and the world, making it an a fascinating tourist attraction.
Also, this is the most reasonable laundry in the city. Dhobi Ghat still welcomes a huge chunk of customers from all walks of life, like garment sellers, caterers, clubs, wedding halls, offices, and hospitals. This beautiful sight of children splashing and playing with water proves that the heritage structure, since its inception, has not only been a business centre, but also a playground, a shelter, and a tool for living in Mumbai.