Photo of a boy in Wadala Boy in the Wadala slum. One of the photographer's many slum pictures from Wadala in Mumbai, India.

Wadala also spelled Vadala, formerly spelt Wuddala, is a locality in Mumbai that photographer Kristian Bertel explored during his latest India trip. The suburb which consists of a slum used to be considered as a central suburb of the city of Mumbai, but is now well within the city limits.

Wadala, a place know for churches, temples and dargas
Wadala The area is bordered by Dadar on the West, Matunga on the Northwest, and Sewri on the South. The western areas of Wadala are covered by salt pans, which are on the shores of the Thane creek. On the Eastern border of Wadala, has planned to construct a truck terminus, spread over 115 hectares Mumbai will have for the first time a centralized facility for the transport of goods by road. Wadala is also known for churches, temples and dargas. Near the station is the 400 year old Vitthal Temple built by Sant Tukaram who brought the idol from Pandharpur, home of the original temple of Lord Vithal. The temple is known as Prati Pandharpur, Pandharpur temple’s replica. One of the many one day festivals in Mumbai has been held in this temple to devote Lord Vitthal on Ashadhi Ekadashi, according to Hindu Calendar in June and July. Near this temple is the 15th-century Lord Ram temple and the Hanuman temple on the opposite side of the road. The Ram Temple also houses a marriage hall. Located on David S. Baretto Road is a Krishna Temple which also houses an orphanage. Wadala also has a Balaji Temple, that celebrates the Jatra festival each year in the month of January. Apart from these, there is also a Shiv Temple, a Devi Mandir and a small Gurudwara near the station.

Slum photo from Wadala in Mumbai
Picture taken from the Wadala Monorail Bridge in the central part of Wadala.

The slum in Wadala pictured
When visiting the Wadala are one cannot ignore the slum at the Wadala Monorail Bridge Station. Slums typically begin at the outskirts of a city. Over time, the city may expand past the original slums, enclosing the slums inside the urban perimeter. New slums sprout at the new boundaries of the expanding city, usually on publicly owned lands, thereby creating an urban sprawl mix of formal settlements, industry, retail zones and slums. This makes the original slums valuable property, densely populated with many conveniences attractive to the poor. At their start, slums are typically located in least desirable lands near the town or city, that are state owned or philanthropic trust owned or religious entity owned or have no clear land title. In cities located over a mountainous terrain, slums begin on difficult to reach slopes or start at the bottom of flood prone valleys, often hidden from plain view of city center but close to some natural water source. In cities located near lagoons, marshlands and rivers, they start at banks or on stilts above water or the dry river bed in flat terrain, slums begin on lands unsuitable for agriculture, near city trash dumps, next to railway tracks, and other shunned undesirable locations. The lack of services such as routine garbage collection allows rubbish to accumulate in huge quantities. "- Slums often have very narrow alleys that do not allow vehicles, including emergency vehicles to pass, so as a photographer you have to adapt to get the pictures that you want", the photographer says.

Indian girl in Wadala in India
An Indian girl is doing the dishes right on the ground in Wadala, Mumbai, India.

Slum pictures from Wadala in Mumbai
A slum is a heavily populated urban informal settlement characterized by substandard housing and squalor. While slums differ in size and other characteristics from country to country, most lack reliable sanitation services, supply of clean water, reliable electricity, timely law enforcement and other basic services. Slum residences vary from shanty houses to professionally-built dwellings that because of poor-quality design or construction have deteriorated into slums. The pictures on this blog is from when the photographer visited this area of Mumbai, an area which is located near the Wadala Road, a station on the Harbour Line of Mumbai's railway network.

This is an India photo from Wadala in Mumbai
An Indian man is carrying a barrel on his head in the Wadala slum, Mumbai.

Slum for many reasons
Slums form and grow in many different parts of the world for many different reasons. Some causes include rapid rural-to-urban migration, economic stagnation and depression, high unemployment, poverty, informal economy, poor planning, politics, natural disasters and social conflicts. Strategies tried to reduce and transform slums in different countries, with varying degrees of success, include a combination of slum removal, slum relocation, slum upgrading, urban planning with city wide infrastructure development and public housing projects.

This is an India photo from Wadala in Mumbai
People are walking near the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Marg in the Wadala area of Mumbai, India.

Population growth in the cities of India
As a traveling photographer Kristian Bertel has seen how a growing economy that creates jobs at rate faster than population growth, offers people opportunities and incentive to relocate from poor slum to more developed neighborhoods. Economic stagnation, in contrast, creates uncertainties and risks for the poor, encouraging people to stay in the slums. Economic stagnation in a nation with a growing population reduces per capita disposal income in urban and rural areas, increasing urban and rural poverty. Rising rural poverty also encourages migration to urban areas. A poorly performing economy, in other words, increases poverty and rural-to-urban migration, thereby increasing slums.

This is an India photo from Wadala in Mumbai
Picture of the slum in Wadala.

Mumbai pictures from Maharashtra, India
Kristian Bertel's picture collection from his latest India trip is counting more than 6000 pictures. Pictures that cover subjects and themes as diverse as slum areas, poverty, neighborhoods in the cities of India. On his recent trip, he has focused on the poverty in the city of Mumbai, with stories from the everyday life of the inhabitants of this city of millions. Although he has a versitile approach to his photographic subjects, he always is on the lookout for the stories behind the pictures. "- I always try to find the personal stories behind the headlines, blending a warm human sensitivity with a photographer’s eye for detail to capture these harrowing pictures of people living in small houses. Homes for the slum people situated on the bridge, and just next to where the traffic is rushing by", the photographer says. His most recent photographic work is portraying the slum life at and near the Wadala Bridge Monorail station in Mumbai, India, where the photographer explored the worldwide issues of slum and poverty. As he did with his earlier photography Kristian Bertel tells stories with dedicated portraits of a sometimes hard life in India. Kristian Bertel is working as a travel photographer and he is available for editorial and travel assignments all over Europe, Asia, Africa and in the Middle East. For further information and inquiries please:
Contact the photographer

More photographs from India
If you are interested to see more photos and imagery from India, you can see one of the slideshows, which also appears on the photographer's website.
See the slideshow | press here