Prostitution is still a grey area of discussion in India. While some measures have been taken for people involved in sex work, there’s still no protection for sex workers. The legalization of prostitution is also not a transparent discussion, and there’s a lot that needs to change. Despite that, the country is allegedly the world’s largest commercial sex industry. Under the Immoral Traffic Act, private prostitution is not illegal in India. However, it’s critical to approach conversations about these zones with empathy and sensitivity, taking into account the intricate legal, social, and economic issues at play.

red light area in india

According to the law, prostitution is legal in India, but public solicitation and owning a brothel are illegal. Some of the most famous, or rather notorious districts of paid pleasure around the world are located in India. They’ve become so well-known, that it’s common to even see people vlogging about these areas nowadays. Kolkata’s Sonagachi is famously known as the biggest red light area in India, but it’s also the biggest one in Asia. I’ve curated a list of 15 red light area near my location and all over India.

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Here’s the list of Famous red light areas across India

Sr. No.Red Light Areas NameCity
2.Foras RoadMumbai
3.Turbhe TekdiMumbai
4.Budhwar PethPune
6.Garstin Bastion RoadDelhi
12.Jawaharkhana Ghaas MandiJodhpur
14.Kabari BazaarMeerut
15.Reshampura Gwalior

1. Kamathipura (Mumbai)

The second-largest red light district in India is Kamathipura. The name became well-known due to the Andhra Pradesh “Kamathis” (workers). The British administration has referred to Kamathipura as “Lal Bazar” since 1795 since it is the oldest prostitution hotspot in South Mumbai. It is home to a large number of sex workers and is considered as one of the most active red light area in India. Sources suggests that it has approximately 5000 sex workers. Alia Bhatt’s Gangubai Kathiawadi also revolved around the brothels in the area and the sex workers who worked there.

red light area in india

2. Foras Road (Mumbai)

The northern states’ cities of Lucknow, Moradabad, Agra, Ratlam, and Bhopal are among those from which the sex workers hail. At this place, the sex workers only perform Mujras. As a result of their development and expansion, places like Beer Bars and Ladies Bars are more frequently visited by people.

Foras Road (Mumbai)

3. Turbhe Tekdi (Mumbai)

The Turbhe red light district was a tiny road located not far from a hilltop and the Turbhe Railway Station. Turbhe Tekdi, a slum district, has essentially been the preferred location for sex workers in Mumbai. Other sex workers from Nepal, Bengal, or other Indian states were trafficked here. Turbhe Tekdi was established long after Kamathipura. Due to the demolition of Kamathipura and the high prices, many women working as prostitutes had migrated here. Currently, this is one of the largest red light area in india.

Turbhe Tekdi (Mumbai)
the guardian

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4. Budhwar Peth (Pune)

With almost 5000 commercial sex workers, it is reportedly the third biggest red light area in India. The region is also a central hub for literature and technology items. It has been estimated to have about 700 brothels. To make it the safest red light area in India, condoms were made a requirement. Following this, face masks and gloves were also made mandatory during the pandemic. Currently, this comes in the list of largest red light area in India.

red light area in india

5. Meerganj (Allahabad)

The illicit trafficking and forced prostitution that occur in this red-light area were infamous, also making it dangerous for visitors. Sunil Chaudhary, a social worker, petitioned the Allahabad High Court in 2016 to close the red light district and relocate the business. The petition was granted by the court. However, some prostitutes have returned to the area.

Meerganj (Allahabad)

Also Read: Red Light Area in Delhi

6. Garstin Bastion Road (Delhi)

This neighborhood is known for the hundreds of brothels that line the streets and is almost believed to be the biggest red-light district in India. On the first story are markets for equipment and auto components, and the second floor is home to kothas or brothels. The first-ever health clinic for sex workers and their families was also inaugurated here.

Garstin Bastion Road (Delhi)

7. Paharganj (Delhi)

Paharganj is known for its cheap hotels and bars, and reportedly there’s also sex work happening in the area. Thousands of posters promoting inexpensive “male to female” and “female to male” massage services are also visible on the streets. In addition to providing services at these sex parlours which operate as “massage parlours,” the workers also offer to travel to customers’ homes or hotels. While staying in Delhi, Paharganj is also among the spots that appear if one might search for a ‘red light area near my location’.

Paharganj (Delhi)

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8. Chaturbhujsthan (Muzaffarpur)

Red-light area Chaturbhuj Sthan is located in Muzaffarpur, a district in the Indian state of Bihar. More than 3,500 sex workers reside in the region, which is thought to have flourished since the Mughal era. The Chaturbhuj Sthan Temple in the district is where it got its name. Since ancient times, brothels have coexisted alongside old temples in this neighbourhood. It seems unusual, but it all starts to make sense when you consider the high social position concubines held in the past.

Chaturbhujsthan (Muzaffarpur)

9. Sonagachi (Kolkata)

Sonagachi is a universe unto itself and holds the distinction of being Asia’s largest red light area. More than 11,000 sex workers live there. There’s a lot that has been said and written about, probably the most famous red light area in India. And there’s very little that we know, which has been covered in the Academy Award-winning documentary Born into Brothels. 

Sonagachi (Kolkata)

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10. Kalighat (Kalighat)

India’s Kalighat neighbourhood in South Kolkata, West Bengal, has two distinct identities. This heavily populated region is known for the Kalighat Temple, where hoards of worshippers congregate, and it also has a significant red light area. Around the banks of the “Adi Ganga Canal,” in one of South Kolkata’s oldest neighbourhoods, 1000 and 1500 prostitutes reside and work.

Kalighat (Kalighat)
the wire

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11. Shivdaspur (Varanasi)

The question still persists, “Is red light area legal in India?” and the answer lies in narrow lanes of Shivdaspur village of Varanasi. Sex workers relocated to Shivdaspur when the red-light district in Dalamandi, which was close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, was closed in the 1970s. Due in part to the declining customer base, the area has declined. This is because people are afraid of HIV. There have been calls from locals and politicians for the area to be closed.

red light area in india
andhra discussions

12. Jawaharkhana Ghaas Mandi (Jodhpur)

It is among the most popular red light areas of Rajasthan. There is a reputation for being quite raucous in this red light district. This location is frequently raided by police, who apprehend the prostitutes but release them after a few days in exchange for favors. With over 500 sex workers, this red light district is rife with stories of old-time corruption. People often ask on google ‘Is Red light area legal in India?’. The answer is yes. But society still looks down upon this work, because of which policemen take advantage of it.

Jawaharkhana Ghaas Mandi (Jodhpur)

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13. Tilawala (Jaipur)

Tilawala in Jaipur is another famous red light area in India, that has gained name in recent times. Many prostitutes hang out along the walls here at night, waiting for someone to hire them. Other than the fact that over 500 sex workers work in this Indian red light district, not much is known about the location.

Tilawala (Jaipur)

14. Kabari Bazaar (Meerut)

After the Mumbai Court outlawed dance bars in the state, Kabari Bazaar, one of the largest red light districts in North India, saw an enormous influx of sex workers. After many prostitutes moved to Meerut from Mumbai, the area developed into a sizable red light district with more than a thousand working sex workers. Like other red light districts, this one is notorious for corruption and a high crime rate.

Kabari Bazaar (Meerut)
sage journals

15. Reshampura (Gwalior)

Sex trafficking is particularly well-known to occur in this area. The women who work here as prostitutes are trained by the owners of the brothels and then sold to Mumbai’s brothels. There have also been reports of women from this red light district being sold to countries in the Middle East. Over two million sex workers in India have to deal with this sad reality every day.

Reshampura (Gwalior)

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