In Pictures: A walk through the Dhobi Ghat in Malleswaram

The washermen's enclave at Malleswaram is a fascinating place where Bangalore’s laundry gets done.

A walk-through the Dhobi Ghat in Malleswaram Photos: Bhaktar BabuA walk-through the Dhobi Ghat in Malleswaram Photos: Bhaktar Babu

Even a movie was made, inspired by
the chaos, color and activity that one gets to see at a Dhobi Ghat. The one located in Malleswaram was set up in the 1970s and nearly one lakh pieces of clothes are washed and pressed by over 500 washermen every day.  The dhobi ghat is a source of income for the hundreds of families who live here. Though most of them live in poverty and poor conditions, they are hopeful that things will get better with BBMP promising them better facilities.

The washermen's enclave is a fascinating place where Bangalore’s laundry gets done. Clothes are hand washed on concrete sinks and hung on clotheslines. As you walk through the ghat, you will see men in chequered lungis repeatedly pounding clothes on a large flat stone before sending it for drying. There are two large washing pools and a separate area for mechanized washing of these clothes. Though washing machines were provided last year, some of them still prefer to wash clothes the old way. The work begins at 6 am everyday and goes on till late in the night.

The day starts with dhobi’s going around the city to collect clothes and bringing them back to the ghat. “We collect clothes from several hotels, spas and other places in the city. We also have agencies who collect clothes and send it to us. Once it is brought here, it is washed twice, thoroughly dried and pressed before being delivered back. We charge anywhere between Rs. 3 – 5 for a piece,” says Rudrappa, who has been working there for over eight years now.

This self sustaining community is finding it hard to make a decent living out of the money it makes. “The problem that we’re facing today is that there are dedicated laundry services in each and every area and people no longer need our services. Also we are not getting enough clothes because so many homes have washing machines.” says Rudrappa with a wry smile.

Meanwhile the BBMP plans to construct mechanized dhobi ghats in Madiwala and Shivajinagar, to provide more work to the dhobi’s in the city.  However amongst murky soap water and grime, these dhobiwallahs are hopeful of a better future.

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Tags: mechanized dhobi ghat in malleswaram, washermen, washing machines

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