Chawls in Mumbai

Beyond the architectural world of high rise buildings and the wonders of the world exists a hub that houses the growing community of migrants who gave the city of Mumbai its cosmopolitan flavor and this dwelling of the working class became the 'Chawl'. With its origin that dates back from the typology of army barracks, Chawl became a housing unit to serve the humongous numbers of migrants who shift to Mumbai for the leisure of work.

A chawl is translated from the Marathi word 'Chaal' which means a room fronted by a corridor. Chawls are either linear shaped with a common corridor aligned with adjacent placed rooms or a C or U shaped building with 3- 5 stories built with a common toilet, washing area and a balcony. The similarity between chawls on an architectural note is the shared balconies which acts like a common corridor.The corridor in the front of the house acts as an entry door and the corridor in the back provides a common passage to access the sanitary facilities. In case of a housing unit with two rooms, the first room is treated as a living room and sleeping room , and the second room is devoted for kitchen and utilities shared even as a study room.

Chawls in Mumbai


A chawl stimulates interaction and is considered as a bridge to gap between the communities. Chawls also occupy a major role in the Bollywood industries with many who were brought up there to the ones who shot some masterpieces like Vaastav, Bunty aur Babli and the worldwide blockbuster "Slum-dog Millionaire".

Naigaon, a region in old city Mumbai developed in the 19th century when textile mills and factories were set up. This gave rise to the development of low cost housing in Naigaon and another of the location in old Mumbai is The Grant Road Area which is basically a belt where clerical and officer workers settled. Some chawls exist under the BDD (Bombay Development Directorate) or BIT (Bombay Improvement Trust) Some of the other areas that are well known for a small town in itself i.e. 'Chawls' are listed below:
  • Phanaswadi Chawl
  • Khotachiwadi
  • The Chawls of Agripada
  • Wadala East Chawls
  • Kamat Chawl
  • Bhandari Chawl
  • 175 Walkeshwar Road

Chawls are easily available on rent through the common committee or owners of chawl or either through the various ads posted on websites like olx, magicbricks, or quickr. The average rent for chawls range from Rs.1500- Rs.6000 that depends on various factors like the location of room and chawl in respect to the availability of basic amenities.

If you are not aware then there are few celebrities who have emerged from these chawls like; Jackie Shroff, Vinod Kambli, Mahesh Manjrekar and more.

But on the account of structurally weak chawls and the need of urbanization and redevelopment required in Mumbai, Chawls are becoming extinct and are a major target for the developers and builders. Nevertheless, on account of those who shifted from Chawls to flats do enjoy a better, hygienic living environment but the social life has literally come to an end where the ex-chawl residents miss the evening talks, balcony to balcony gossips and the festivals celebrated in togetherness.

Also Read:
Mumbai Bandra | Lokhandwala in Mumbai | Dadar in Mumbai | Slum Areas in Mumbai | Navi Mumbai | Bandra Worli Sea Link | Dhobi Ghats in Mumbai

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Comments / Discussion Board - Chawls in Mumbai

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  • J
    Journalist from Purnia 1063 Days ago

    I have not ever lived in Chawl. Even, i don't know properly about chawl. I would visit Mumbai and will take room in Chawl and will write magazine on Chawl's lifestyle

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  • O
    Open Thinker from Mumbai 1457 Days ago

    I like the culture of Chawls. I think that one must know about chawls, their culture, way of living, how they manage things etc.

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    m
    mumbaionline.in Expertfrom 1063 Days ago

    Hi! You can visit these chawls to know about the lifestyle of the people living in these small rented houses.

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