This is something I’d been curious about:
Is there a continuous stretch of walkable coastline from Khar to the northern tip of the island of Bombay?
There was only one way to find out.
I began, on a whim, at some 9:50am on Tuesday and ended at about 2:20pm, without a break. Here’s a series of screenshots I took while on the way, with the blue dot marking progress and the time displayed on the status bar at the top:
The short answer is the stretch is mostly navigable along the beach on foot, although increasingly less so as you go northwards.
Though sunny, the weather was pleasant. As long as you’re on the beach there’s a constant breeze from the sea towards the island. This isn’t such a good thing on the stretches of beach strewn with trash.
There are large swathes of clean, quiet, flat beach that are an undiscovered joy to walk along. And equally large expanses of polluted, malodorous, garbage-littered beach. Trash that the sea brings back unfailingly, and that the local shanties toss out.
From here, you walk across a perilously narrow concrete bridge over a trash filled nallah onto a trash filled stretch stretch of beach. Half a kilometer or so down, you’re at the southern tip of Juhu beach:
At some point, you hit a creek, narrow but long, just north of Juhu. You can see Versova beach right across. But there’s no bridge across it even though it’s only about three dozen feet wide at its narrowest.
So you backtrack, make your way through a shanty, through covered lanes barely wide enough for your shoulders, onto a road that leads eventually to Juhu circle. When you finally reach Versova beach after walking along the Versova link road, it’s 40 minutes and several extra kilometers.
Rock beach at Versova, looking south. Unfortunately, Rock Beach means that the southern stretch of Versova beach isn’t a contiguous stretch of sand. You’re mostly walking down Versova Road and dipping down to the beach and back as access allows.
The northern stretch of Versova beach. The faint land mass across is Madh, and you can see the outlines of buildings through the smog. This stretch is, unfortunately, strewn with trash, debris and poop. It’s a tragedy, really.
The Versova jetty with local fishermen and their boats. The smell (stench?) of drying fish is overpowering. It’s clearly a bustling local industry, with ships, cottage cold storage and processing facilities and a trucking area. But it’s filthy, almost certainly unhygenic, and upkeep is ad-hoc and inadequate. This could be a larger, cleaner, happier and vastly more efficient enterprise with the right funds and management.
Finally, the ferry that takes you to Madh.
That’s all, folks. I then navigated my way to the closest road, and caught a rickshaw back to the Bandra area where I began.
All in all, here’s the route (marked in purple) and other stats from my Fitbit:
It’s been a bittersweet experience. Bombay’s suburban coastline is quiet, over a dozen kilometers long, wide and predominantly sandy. But, it’s been long neglected, and therefore encroached upon and polluted along many stretches. There’s just so much potential here.
Ps: granted the northern tip of the island isn’t really Versova jetty; it’s the northern end of Uttan beach. So rounding the Madh and Uttan peninsulas is another journey.