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World’s Largest Laundromat

Photo essay on Mumbai's Dhobi Ghat.

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The Dhobi Ghat at Saat Rasta (Seven Roads) near Mahalaxmi Station in Mumbai, is perhaps the world largest outdoor laundromat. If you send your clothes for cleaning in Mumbai, chances are that they’ll end up here at the Dhobi Ghat.

But you won’t find any machines here. Instead, close to 200 dhobis and their families wash clothes by hand in row upon row of concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. The clothes are soaked in sudsy water, thrashed on the flogging stones, then tossed into huge vats of boiling starch and hung out to dry. Next they are ironed and piled into neat bundles.

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Tagged as:

Travel | Life | August 2011 | Magazine

Image gallery

<i>Dhobis </i> hang clothes to dry in the open. Thousands of clothes are washed and hung up to dry, while ensuring none are misplaced <i>Dhobis</i> wash clothes by beating the clothes against stones in scores of pens in <i>Dhobi Ghat</i>. A <i>dhobi</i> washes clothes in the traditional way by beating the clothes on a flogging stone A <i>dhobi</i>pitches a garment into the wash. A man is seen through smoke rising from burning wood used to boil vats of caustic soda. <i>Dhobis</i> iron the clothes using heavy wood-burning irons. <i>Dhobis</i> use soap and brush to wash clothes. A<i> dhobi</i> relaxes inside a wash pen filled with soap water. A <i> dhobi </i> hangs clothes on ropes to dry against the backdrop of the city’s high-rise buildings. A <i>Dhobi</i> immerses clothes in a vat filled with boiling caustic soda. An old <i>dhobi</i> prepares to hang clothes for drying on ropes

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