A walk in the sky – 2: Chembur Skywalk

Last week, I took a walk on the Chembur Skywalk. While trying to take a photograph of the skywalk from one of its 3 currently operating exits, I gathered a crowd of some curious onlookers. The conversation that ensued went something like this:

“Are you a journalist?” one of them asked.

“No. I am not a journalist,” I said.

“Then why do you want to take pictures of the skywalk?” another one asked.

“Because, I am writing a series on Mumbai’s skywalks for my blog, and the Chembur skywalk is the next one to be featured,” I replied.

“Then you are a journalist,” the group said triumphantly.

“No, I am not a journalist,” I said a little more forcefully.

“Look, madam,” said one of the persistent onlookers, “why would anybody want to photograph and write about the skywalk? It is not a film hero or heroine. Only journalists write about such things. If you don’t want anyone to know that you are a journalist, fine. But we know that you are a journalist. A serious journalist.”

“It’s ok,” said another. “We won’t even ask which paper you work for.”

I gave up. There were 3-4 khaki-clad people in the group who decided that I should not be “pestered” by the others. Shooing them off, they introduced themselves as BMC employees who worked in the area and said that they would very gladly be my “informers” about the Chembur Skywalk.

View of the Chembur Skywalk from the Sadguru Kadam Baba Garden

According to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, the Mumbai skywalks have been built with the main purpose of helping pedestrians to bypass heavy traffic and crowds and take them from a station to a strategically placed exit like a major road junction, or an important office area. This purpose does not apply for the Chembur Skywalk. What it essentially does is to connect the two foot over bridges on the western side of Chembur station.

The first thing that you notice about the skywalk, particularly if you are standing below it is that, it is built directly above a pre-existing path. This path appears to be the preferred mode of travel for people, as I saw more people using the path than the skywalk above.

I squeezed through the two bars to access the Chembur Skywalk from the station foot over bridge at the stations southern end

While the skywalk is seamlessly connected to the railway foot over bridge on the northern end, it is just the reverse with foot over bridge on the southern end. I had to squeeze through two bars to access the skywalk! The 230 metre long bridge has the Harbour line railway track on one side and buildings (a school, a college), a garden and an open area on its other side. And it is for this reason that it feels more like a foot over bridge than a skywalk. The pleasurable thrill of feeling suspended in mid-air is sadly missing.

A girl looks down into Chembur station from the skywalk
A Mumbai-bound Harbour line train as viewed from the skywalk
A stretch of open ground as viewed from the skywalk. Wonder how long it will remain like this, though !
View of the Sadguru Kadam Baba Garden from the skywalk

Currently, the skywalk has 3 exits—two exits to each of the railway foot over bridges and the third exit to a lane between the Sadguru Kadam Baba Garden and the BMC school. The fourth exit, which is yet to be constructed, will be on the bridge portion of the Mahul Ghatkopar Road.

The incomplete part of the Chembur Skywalk. It will eventually exit on the bridge portion of the Mahul Ghatkopar Road

The skywalk passes almost within touching distance of a BMC school. To prevent people from looking into the classrooms as well as to prevent the school kids from looking out of their classroom windows, barriers have been erected on the portion of the skywalk that passes by the school building.

Barricaded portion of the skywalk

I would hate to be a student in any of the classrooms whose windows open to this grey, barricaded view. The poor students can’t even see the trains going by or have the pleasure to daydream and escape the tedium of uninspiring lessons !

But the Chembur skywalk has a surprise up its sleeve as well. So what if it cannot give the feeling of being suspended in the sky ! The skywalk is level with many trees and this gives the passer-by an opportunity to observe quite a few birds. I even managed to photograph a rather haughty-looking crow.

Wonder what the crow has to say about the skywalk !

While talking about the Chembur skywalk to my khaki-clad “informers”, one of them suddenly burst out,

“Madam, you have to write about the Chembur skywalk.”

“Of course, I will be writing about the Chembur skywalk. That’s why I am here, ” I said.

“No, no. What I mean to say is you have to write that it is a nuisance for us. We can’t bear to see it.”

I was puzzled. “You can’t bear to see the skywalk? Why?”

“No, no, madam. That is not what he means,” said another of my informers. “He is feeling a little shy to say that there are lots of young couples who use the bridge for their ‘friendship’ and we get embarrassed.”

I didn’t really know how to respond, so I kept quiet.

A third “informer” continued, “Actually, it is fine if they only hold hands, but they go beyond all that. Much beyond all that.”

And the talk continued in this vein for some time till the first informer requested that I write about what they had just told me. To which, I said that I would report this conversation as faithfully as I could.

As I was taking their leave, the fourth informer who had been quiet all this while said, “Madam, it is not as serious as my friends are saying. The young people have nowhere to go and we must understand this. Anyway, once the skywalk is fully functional and more people start using it, this problem will go away. But do write about all this.”

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About the Skywalk Series

This series attempts to see Mumbai through a skywalk. To keep some sort of uniformity (and convenience), all skywalks are done on a Saturday and at approximately 9.30 am. The skywalks explored so far are:

30 thoughts on “A walk in the sky – 2: Chembur Skywalk

  1. This was absolutely fascinating! You made the sky sound like a tourist spot and I am sure I will go visiting the next time I am in Mumbai. 😀
    I loved the simple and ‘very faithful’ style… moreover, such helpful people came along to help. Ha ha… super reading! 😀

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    1. You must take a walk on one of the skywalks. It is quite an eyeopener to see a city life from this perspective. I have done 2 so far and there are 49 more to go. Do you want to join me on any of the skywalks? 🙂

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      1. I’d love to! I’m new in Mumbai and I’m not comfortable with the routes and areas at all. I think doing some exploring will help me familiarise myself with the city 🙂

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        1. Welcome to Mumbai, SLR. Its a mad, mad city, and exploring its various nooks and crannies would be the best way to familiarise oneself with its rich and diverse culture, not to mention its history.

          Thank you for stopping by and commenting and do keep visiting. 🙂

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  2. lol, great conversation you had there :)I feel a bit stupid that living in the city I’ve never used one of these. And you should be happy, being upgraded from blogger to journalist, that’s so cool 😀

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    1. Yes, great conversation indeed. This is the first time I had a crowd following me around and it was quite unnerving. I hope that it does not happen again. But do go on the skywalks, they are a great way to see Mumbai.

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    1. Thanks, Rajesh. Many of the skywalks are fully functional now. The next time you are in Mumbai, do try to walk on at least one of them. The Borivali skywalk is reporedly the longest skywalk in Mumbai and the Grant Road one the highest.

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  3. Agood piece with lovely pictures & lot of human touch.
    Iagree with you poor school kids to be denied thier piece
    of view out of window.
    so when is the next walk would love to join you

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  4. I like to write about my city too. Its just posted on the blog, not a newspaper. A blog is more enduring than a newspaper though, more unbiased and true. So we are better than journalists. We are artists who do it for art’s sake.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ava. I would not draw any comparisons between bloggers and journalists–both have their purposes and both are important in their own ways. Neither would I say that one is better than the other,

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  5. The stated purpose of the skywalk reminds me of an incident from Isaac Newton’s life. He had built two trap doors for his pets- one for going out and the other for getting in! Till the end , he couldn’t figure out why the animals did not appreciate his gesture. Mumbai’s skywalks could end up like Newton’s trapdoors- its far easier and more exciting to to dodge traffic while crossing the road . Still, it was a nice post and a novel way to see the city.

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  6. I would like to draw your attention towards a grave matter. Because this matter is not only for me but for the convenience of all. As you all know that skywalk has been built at various places an people are being benifited by that. There are various other places were skywalk has not been built yet and it is of a big need to people like for example KURLA STATION which is th most busiest station. Specially on the east side where there is a lot of traffic wit lot of buses and rickshaws entirely using the road length. While CROSSING the road people have to go through lot of difficulties. There are so many school children crossing the road fron kurla east to go to chembur, who actually dont have the capability to judge. There have been many instances of accidents as well.
    I think this matter should be taken very seriously. I would also like to know that skywalk has been existing in various places now, as wel as kurla being the busiest station why skywalk has not come up yet in kurla station east where there is actual need? Please do comment if you think that the matter is of some importance.
    PAROPKAR KI RAAH MAI CHALKAR HUM APNA JEEVAN APNE LIE NAHI BALKI DUSRO KE LIE KUCH BANKAR DIKHAYE…..

    Thank you

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  7. I live so near this sky walk but have never ever attempted to climb it! I climbed the Sion sky walk once and was huffing away by the time I reached up. It is little wonder that people still jostle around under the sky walks all because they are a good trek up and down!

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    1. I have yet to do the Sion Skywalk. In fact I need to restart my Mumbai skywalk series.

      Yes, the skywalk is at quite a height and it is difficult for differently abled people to access it. And for someone like you me, it only says, GET FIT ! 😛

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  8. Beautiful.
    Your Posts are making me even more eager to make another visit to Bombay(though I did it 6 months ago!!)
    There is so much to see.
    And the first”journalist” part was really funny to read.I mean a person who is not a journalist cannot take picture of a skywalk and to write a blog on it

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