A tour of one of the world's biggest slums has been voted tourists' most popular attraction in India, according to a travel site.

The sprawling Dharavi slum in Mumbai just became the favourite tourist experience of 2019 in India and even beat the Taj Mahal, said travel site TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice Awards.

A small group tour of the Dharavi slums - usually by someone who grew up in them - is the top most preference of tourists who visit the country

Are slums fair game for tourists? Boys play cricket in Mumbai's Dharavi slum. Photo / Jeffrey Greenberg, Getty Images
Are slums fair game for tourists? Boys play cricket in Mumbai's Dharavi slum. Photo / Jeffrey Greenberg, Getty Images

Dharavi, which is the largest slum of Asia, won the top position on the Top 10 Experiences list in India and also made it to the '10 Travellers' Choice Experiences 2019 in Asia' list.

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Slum tours around the world have become more and more popular in recent years and are the source of much discussion over their ethics.

Critics claim they are exploitative and poor areas are even cleared out or 'sanitised' by police before tourists visit, meaning those who live in these areas are forced to go along.

Proponents however say any responsible tour is carried out by proud residents who show that their home is more than a slum and promote the enterprise and ingenuity within them.

Dharavi for instance recycles much of Mumbai's waste plastic and paper, and is home to various craft industries - meaning tourists can contribute to an economy far away from the temples and palaces on the usual visitor trail.

Upcycle: Dharavi is home to various craft industries, recycling Mumbai's plasic and paper. Photo / Jeffrey Greenberg, Getty Images
Upcycle: Dharavi is home to various craft industries, recycling Mumbai's plasic and paper. Photo / Jeffrey Greenberg, Getty Images

While Dharavi topped the list for the experiences in India, it was followed by a 'bike tour of Old Delhi' and a 'private day tour of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort by a superfast train' on the second and third position respectively.

On the Asia list, Dharav, which is home to more than 1m people and featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire, bagged the 10th rank after 'full-day group Angkor Wat Tour from Siem Reap in Cambodia' and enjoying the 'Krabi Sunset Cruises at Ao Nang, Thailand'.

In the Asia list, while the 'Ubud tour with Jungle Swing in Indonesia' bagged the top position, the 'faster than skip-the-line experience at the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica Tour in Rome, Italy' topped the World category.