Indian flag on a wooden board

View from India: New 'garden terminal' unveiled at Bangalore airport

Image credit: Dreamstime

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangalore today (11 November) to inaugurate the new airport and rail infrastructure as well as unveil a 108-foot-tall statue of Chieftain Nadaprabhu Kempegowda, credited as the founder of Bangalore city.

The statue of Chieftain Nadaprabhu Kempegowda stands in a theme park near the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). The statue, which is 108ft tall and has a sword weighing four tonnes, is known as the Statue of Prosperity, or Pragatiya Pratime. This is the first and tallest bronze statue of a founder of a city according to the World Book of Records.

Prime Minister (PM) Modi flagged off the Vande Bharat Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore Express, India’s first semi high-speed train, which will connect Bangalore-Mysore-Chennai. This is the first Vande Bharat service in south India, and the fifth across India. The train has an intelligent braking system for better acceleration and deceleration, and a GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system. The coaches have automatic doors and are designed to be accessible for those passengers with additional needs. The PM has also flagged off the Karnataka Bharat Gaurav Kashi Darshan train that travels to pilgrimage spots. Modi has hailed Bangalore for fostering startups. “Vande Bharat is made in India. It represents new India and the railways of the future. Vande Bharat is a testimony to fast trains; around 400 such trains will be launched in the country. These trains travel at a high speed and, accordingly, railway stations too are being upgraded,” said the PM, while addressing a rally. Highlighting Karnataka’s potential, the PM said that it is home to over 400 Fortune 500 companies. World over, India is known for its startup ventures and investments in startups have enriched the state. “Karnataka is moving with the strength of [a] double engine,” Modi said optimistically.  

Coming to the airport, Modi inaugurated the second terminal at KIA. “Our focus is on connectivity for which new airports are in the offing. Before 2014, there were 70 airports in the country and the numbers have now doubled,” highlighted the PM. Around 25 per cent growth of the aerospace and defence sector can be attributed to Karnataka with its capital city Bangalore.

Terminal 2, or T2, which is slated to begin an exclusive domestic terminal from the end of December, is expected to cater to 25 million passengers annually. T1 has seen 35 million passengers in a year; from the traffic point of view, there has been a need for a second terminal. Bangalore International Airport Limited, which operates KIA, embarked on a ₹13,000-crore (130bn rupees, or approximately £1.37bn) infrastructure project, which includes T2, a second runway, a multimodal transport hub and the expansion of access roads and internal road infrastructure. A sum of ₹5,000 crore (50bn rupees, or approximately £527m) has gone towards T2.

Architecturally T2 scores for its lush green walls and its immersive experience, as the terminal gives passengers the illusion of a ‘walk in the garden’. Visitors connect with nature at the garden terminal, marked by trees, gardens and water cascades. Sustainability is woven into the fabric as the terminal will tap renewable energy and put rainwater to use. Solar shading, intelligent building systems and renewable materials are other specialties.   

The glitzy T2 has opened up unexplored possibilities of airport design. It could throw up unthinkable and unimaginable shapes and layouts; perhaps even fire the imagination of airport makers and urge them to explore new materials for construction. A terminal with such a futuristic design could well position KIA as a gateway to the south. The fact that it has a garden-like feel can be soothing. However, it’s not just its visual appeal; there are other compelling factors. KIA has served 74 domestic destinations in 2021; as per media reports, this is the highest ever since the airport opened and overshadows the 54 routes served pre-Covid. This is also the highest among the airports in south India. Non-metro connectivity is also on the rise.

Let’s look at the bigger picture. Not too many people want to spend time at airports, but inevitably this is what happens. Waiting for a flight results in hours of boredom, which could frustrate even the most cheerful passenger. This miserable thought is being lifted by airports that sport sleek, spatial designs; whose fluidity and openness make them airy hubs for passenger interactions. Doses of entertainment, intertwined with attractions and amenities, can give a dramatic twist to the otherwise monotonous situation. Retail and spa therapy could also be packed in to reenergise weary travellers. Art installations could ‘wow’, while others may stop by to listen to the soft murmur of a waterfall.

Merely decongesting the place may not suffice; airports are being repurposed to go beyond being glass façade transit hubs. They are being renovated and could morph into world-class destinations in their own right. Domestic airports themselves could compete with one another for attracting inbound airline travel. Destination airports may provide employment for various sections of society and churn sizeable revenue for the state which, in turn, could contribute to the country's economy. 

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