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Red Light Areas in India


Jul 18, 2023

Exotic red light areas in India – Everything you need to Know!

In the vast and diverse landscape of India, there exist pockets that are known as red-light areas. These areas are infamous for their association with prostitution and related activities. While the practice of prostitution is illegal in India, it persists clandestinely in certain locations across the country. Red light areas, shrouded in controversy and societal taboos, are a complex reflection of the challenging issues surrounding sex work and its impact on individuals and communities.

Red light areas are often characterized by a concentration of brothels, where individuals, primarily women, engage in sex work as a means of livelihood. These areas are marked by distinct features such as dimly lit streets, prominent signage, and a constant flow of people seeking or providing sexual services. Red light areas are not limited to a single city or state in India; they can be found in various urban centres across the country.

However, it is crucial to approach this topic with sensitivity and empathy, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of the lives and experiences of those involved in the sex industry.

In this blog, we will explore notable red-light areas in India. There is so much that one can know about the red light areas before exploring them. From the culture of red light areas in India to their rates, atmosphere, and much more. If you are eager to know everything about the red light areas in India, then this article is for you. So let’s explore the most exotic red light areas in India you must know about. Here you go!

  1. Kamathipura, Mumbai

Kamathipura, located in Mumbai, is one of the most well-known and historic red-light areas in India. This area has a distinctive atmosphere that can be both captivating and disheartening. Known for its narrow lanes and cramped buildings, Kamathipura paints a picture of a bustling neighbourhood where sex work is prevalent.

The atmosphere in Kamathipura is a mix of vibrant energy and underlying sorrow. The narrow alleys are filled with bustling activity as sex workers, customers, and curious onlookers navigate their way through the maze-like streets. The area is often crowded, noisy, and visually striking, with bright lights and provocative signage adorning the buildings.

Rates for services offered by sex workers in Kamathipura can vary depending on various factors, including duration, type of service, and negotiation between the parties involved. It is essential to note that discussing specific rates for illegal activities is not appropriate. However, it is important to highlight that many sex workers in Kamathipura face exploitative conditions and often struggle to earn a fair income.

While Kamathipura may attract curiosity from travellers, it is crucial for them to approach the area with respect, sensitivity, and awareness. It is not advisable for travellers to explore Kamathipura out of mere curiosity or to engage in illegal activities. Sensationalising or objectifying sex workers is unethical and reinforces the stigma they already face.

Overall, Kamathipura, the red light area of Mumbai, presents a complex and challenging reality. The atmosphere, rates, and life of sex workers in this area reflect the broader issues surrounding sex work in India. Travellers interested in exploring this area should do so responsibly, with sensitivity, and with a genuine intention to understand and support the individuals involved.

2. Sonagachi, Kolkata

Sonagachi is located in Kolkata and is one of the largest and most well-known red-light areas in India. Just like Kamathipura, Sonagachi has its unique atmosphere, rates for services, and the lives of sex workers who inhabit this area. The atmosphere in Sonagachi is a combination of bustling activity, cramped lanes, and a vibrant yet sombre ambience. The area is characterised by narrow streets lined with small rooms, where sex workers solicit customers. The vibrant red lights and numerous signs create a distinct visual identity for Sonagachi.

However, it is important to approach discussions about specific rates with sensitivity and respect, as the focus should be on the broader issues surrounding sex work rather than the details of transactions. For travellers interested in exploring Sonagachi, it is important to approach the area with empathy, respect, and sensitivity. However, it is crucial to note that simply visiting for curiosity or engaging in illegal activities is unethical and contributes to the exploitation of sex workers.

Overall, The atmosphere, rates, and lives of sex workers in Sonagachi highlight the need for sensitivity, empathy, and responsible engagement when discussing or visiting such areas. The focus should always be on supporting the well-being, rights, and empowerment of sex workers rather than exploiting or sensationalising their circumstances.

3. GB Road, Delhi

GB Road, officially known as Garstin Bastion Road, is a renowned stretch in the heart of Delhi, situated between Ajmeri Gate and Lahori Gate within the Walled City of Old Delhi. This area holds notoriety for multiple reasons. Firstly, it is a prominent market for various automotive parts. Additionally, GB Road is also recognized as Delhi’s red-light district, where prostitution and the sex trade are prevalent.

 GB Road, originally named after a British officer of the East India Company, has an interesting historical background. It is said that during the Mughal era, Delhi had five distinct red light areas. However, under British rule, these areas merged into a single location, which eventually became known as GB Road. Since 1956, the road has also been referred to as Swami Shraddhanand Marg, and it is recognized by both names in present times.

Beyond the mechanics and automotive shops, one can observe dilapidated balconies adorned with vibrant colours on the walls. These balconies were once adorned with intricately designed balustrades or windows covered in wire mesh. Today, they serve as a backdrop for a peculiar sight – clothes hanging out to dry and faces adorned with bright and garish makeup.

Women and girls can be seen gathered on those balconies and windows, often standing closely together. If they happen to make eye contact with you, they may wave and gesture for you to approach them. These individuals are the very women for which GB Road has gained its notorious reputation.

According to accounts from people familiar with the area, these women are generally polite and face numerous challenges when it comes to basic necessities like water and electricity. Prostitution becomes not just a job but often the sole source of income for them. Maintaining proper hygiene is both important and costly for these individuals. Since organised prostitution is illegal in India, their lives are constantly subject to uncertainty.

A stroll along GB Road can offer a captivating experience, as interesting as one desires it to be. It provides a perfect image of the experiences of these women, shedding light on the complexities and realities they face on a daily basis.

4. Budhwar Peth, Pune

Budhwar Peth is a well-known area in Pune, Maharashtra, India, which is recognized for its association with the sex industry. It is located in the heart of the city and has a history that dates back several decades. Budhwar Peth, situated in the heart of Pune, is renowned as the largest and most prominent red light area in the city. This area is characterised by its bustling streets, and lively ambience. It serves as a hub for numerous brothels, making it a significant centre for the sex industry in Pune.

Budhwar Peth is infamous for its presence in brothels, where sex work takes place. The area is known for its small lanes, shady rooms, and signage that discreetly indicate the services offered. It has a unique atmosphere with a constant flow of people, including sex workers, clients, and curious visitors.


Budhwar Peth, the red light area of Pune city, is situated just behind the famous Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati temple in the heart of the old city. This juxtaposition is quite paradoxical, as it reflects the coexistence of a brothel on one side and the first girls’ school in Maharashtra on the other. The area serves as a reminder of the struggles faced by women in the past.

While some had the opportunity to pursue education and wear uniforms, others were left with no choice and forced into prostitution. Unfortunately, even after 171 years since the school’s establishment, women in both places are still fighting for equal rights.

An intriguing aspect of the area is the presence of impactful graffiti at its entrance.

The artwork on the left side carries the message “Drishtikon badly,” meaning “change your outlook,” depicting a woman staring from the right side. The artist deserves appreciation for creating such a powerful piece. Recent data suggests that approximately 1,500 women reside in brothels in this area.

5. Meerganj, Allahabad

Meergunj, or Meerganj, situated in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, was a notorious red-light area that gained prominence for its involvement in the flesh trade back in 2016. The area was known for its engagement with both local sex workers and individuals who were trafficked from various Indian states such as West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh, as well as neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh.

In collaboration with non-governmental organisations, the district administration has implemented initiatives aimed at providing support and rehabilitation for sex workers and their children in Meerganj or Meerganj. These efforts are intended to improve their overall welfare and provide opportunities for a better life.

 This red light area is quite popular in India as girls from different origins can be found here. Men have a great time here at affordable rates. Hiring sex workers in Meerganj is quite cheaper compared to other red-light areas in India. Though many programs and initiatives have been taken for the welfare of workers in Meerganj, there are still many women in this red-light area who bring pleasure to men. If you are in Allahabad and want to see the true colours of a red-light district in India, meerganj could be a place for you to explore. However, being conscious of your safety is important.

Final Thoughts

So these are some of the most exotic red light areas in India that everyone should know about. Whether you are a traveller to India or you are a resident, knowing about red light districts in India is crucial for you. These red-light areas constitute a significant history of the country. And even in the modern era, they have great significance. So explore these areas with a judgement-free approach and witness the essence of adult entertainment.


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