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In Focus: Kolkata Solar Slum Tour

Highlights / General details

Kolkata is India's second largest and most populous megacity, widely regarded as the country’s intellectual and cultural capital. It’s also a place to experience the human strength to survive — Kolkata (Calcutta) conjures up images of human suffering to many Westerners. Most of the urban poor are unable to access their basic needs, such as electricity, water, and shelter in the slums.

Venture off the beaten track and experience first-hand the life of these Kolkata city slums with Pollinate Energy, a social enterprise that’s bringing light to India’s urban poor. Indoor air pollution from kerosene and wood stoves is the second-highest cause of death by disease in India. Pollinate Energy finds local people who are passionate about helping the families living in tent slums, and trains them to run a micro-business. They go from tent to tent, talking to families, introducing them to solar lighting and phone chargers, and helping them buy a solar light on an affordable payment plan to replace their kerosene lamps.

To start your journey, you’ll visit the Pollinate Energy office in Kolkata, a place bustling with activity as “Pollinators” pop in to pick up new stock, and while our team manages a growing network of hives across all of India. You will hear first-hand Pollinate Energy’s start-up story, learn how far the organization has come, and where it’s going.

You will be taken on an auto-rickshaw journey through Kolkata’s busy city streets. Under the close guidance of our Pollinators, you will enter a tent community and be welcomed into the home of one of our customers. You will experience life in a community as children play wildly and parents make their way home from work. Until recently, these communities relied on kerosene lamps to light up their homes after sundown. Now, thanks to the work of your Pollinator, they have clean and affordable solar-power lighting in their homes.

You’ll also have the option to walk through a bustling outdoor flower market or to see a beautiful sunset near the ghats of the holy Ganges.

At the end of your tour, you’ll get a chance to witness the magic in action. Sit with a local family, enjoy a cup of chai, and watch the lights turning on as the sun begins to set. At that moment, you’ll understand what it means to light up a life.


Local English-speaking guide; Local transport between meeting and end points; Lunch; Chai with a local family in a slum (the family that hosts you receives a payment for their time).


Hotel pick-up and drop-off; Solar light (you may choose to buy one from your Pollinator to take home as a reminder of your adventure); Items of a personal nature; Gratuities.

Hours of operation

Available: Monday - Thursday; Departs at 4:30pm.


Approximately 4-5 hours.


Meeting point: Kolkata Hive, CE - 178, CE Block Salt lake (Sector 1), near tank no. 4; Ending point: Howrah Bridge.

Additional Information

Please dress conservatively and with respect for the community. This means long pants and t-shirt/sleeves for men (i.e., no singlets), long pants or skirt and covered shoulders for women (i.e., no low tops or bare shoulders), and shorts and a t-shirt for kids. We recommend longer sleeves/pants to protect against mosquitoes. Please bring insect repellent as well.


Children below the age of 6 are not permitted on this tour.

Complete information, including local telephone numbers at your destination, will be included on your Confirmation Voucher.

**All information requested must be supplied or booking is subject to automatic cancellation**

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Number of Passengers:

Limited Availability