All you need to know about the UNESCO-honoured Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport’s Terminal 2

With an art collection of 60 artworks by 43 artists in 13 locations, the experience is based on two themes — Karnataka’s rich heritage and culture and Bharata Natyashastra’s Naurasa
Kempegowda International Airport’s T2
Kempegowda International Airport’s T2

The Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru was bestowed with the World Special Prize for Interior 2023 by UNESCO’s Prix Versailles, last year, solidifying its position as one of the most aesthetically pleasing terminals, globally. Terminal 2 (T2) at the airport, known for its exquisite design and capacity to accommodate 25 million passengers annually in its first phase, has consistently captivated travellers with its carefully curated aesthetic appeal, adding to the joy of their journey.

Chaired by the renowned fashion designer Elie Saab, the Prix Versailles 2023 world judges panel unveiled the latest architectural projects to earn this recognition, with Bengaluru’s new airport terminal standing out as the sole Indian airport to receive the award. The garden-themed Terminal 2, adorned with huge hanging planted bells, bamboo, rammed-earth walls and various waterfalls, not only adds to its aesthetic beauty but also makes it a pioneer of sustainability. Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended this achievement, via X, “A commendable feat! Congratulations to the people of Bengaluru. Terminal 2 of the Kempegowda International Airport is not just a gateway to the vibrant city of Bengaluru but also a showcase of architectural brilliance. This accomplishment reflects the country’s growing prowess in combining world-class infrastructure with artistic beauty.”

With an art collection of 60 artworks by 43 artists in 13 locations, the experience is based on two themes — Karnataka’s rich heritage and culture and Bharata Natyashastra’s Naurasa (nine emotions), all of which represent the myriad of feelings a human goes through at the airport. Passengers on their date of travel, can pause, reflect and savour this curated installation. After experiencing the walk-through during Unboxing BLR Habba, we put together a list of artworks that must not be missed. The large-scale installation, Bird’s Eye View, consisting of two panels, on the south wall of the check-in hall provides an aerial view of airport layouts set on tarmac lines highlighting the interconnectedness of the world.The airport layouts represented on this piece include London, Paris, San Francisco, Dubai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Singapore and more.

Artwork inspired by board games
Artwork inspired by board games

On your way to the security check, do keep on an eye on the floor for noir et blanc granite tiles that look like life-size versions of an ancient board game. 12 of these artworks including Interpreted Interpretations, Hasu Chitaray (Cows and Leopards), Six-sided Pacchisi and Navagraha Pagade, have been sprinkled across the terminal and all of them draw inspiration from over 60 games created by the maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur III. Bengaluru has a lot of names and focusing on the same Gaatha Design Studio has created Sensorium of Wonders, a bidri art installation showcasing Bengaluru’s topography and aesthetics as the Garden City evolved into the Silicon Valley of India on two panels. The former panel displays an intricate and elaborate Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that serves as an aerial map of Bengaluru city’s landmarks such as the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Vidhana Soudha, Majestic Bus Stand, Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Ulsoor Lake and other key locations while the latter depicts the traditional arches and jaali design found in the gates of the Bangalore Palace and the Bidar Fort.

Now unlike most art exhibits, the airport allows you to physically engage with all installations, but especially this bronze sculpture — The Journey of Navarasa   —  featuring nine birds around a winged deity with a haloed face lets the passengers place their heads in the halo space of the sculpture and pose for a picture before boarding their plane. Karnataka’s 18th Century Channapattana ivory-wooden toys remain popular to this day and multidisciplinary artist Ravikumar Kashi in collaboration with Bharat Arts and Crafts installed — Flights of Wonder using this art form. This artwork featuring 600 birds in three different sizes and four parts in the arrivals area is a representation of migrating birds and passengers. The exceptional part is that the artists have used only four hues of organic lacquer and none of them repeat the same pattern of colours. Opposite this masterpiece, is Shalini Dam’s terracotta work — Find Me a Love Song — hinting at the shringara rasa. Appearing like a series of eight grilled windows inspired by Hampi, Vidhana Soudha and the Central Library in Cubbon Park; this installation is a handmade layered artwork, which when one walks by, reveals the state butterfly of Karnataka, the Southern Birdwing besides scattered letters and images.

Flights of Wonder
Flights of Wonder

Moving onto the international wing and past the mesmerising cascades on either side, we come across another set of beautiful works and the first one in line is Heritage Play: Celebrating Traditional Toys from Karnataka by Nagaraj Bakale. Next, we stop by The Moon by Krishnaraj Chonat. Suspended from the ceiling, this piece — crafted from silicon bronze, copper, stainless steel and patina — retains the memory of coracle boats on the concave while the convex is designed like the surface of a moon. On top sits a sculpture of his seven-year-old daughter looking up — where the line between ambitions and possibilities is blurred with every dream coming true. At this point of the walk-through, we knew they had saved the best for the last. We first chanced upon ShantamaniMuddaiah’s Meghdoot (Kalidasa’s poem — Cloud Messenger), a big black cloud created from wood charcoal, cotton rag pulp and carbon fibre that looks lit during the dark hours; and then the second installation — which was also our final one — is by Michael Foley whose Rani Abbaka Chowta puts together various scenes from the first Tuluva queen’s life using intricate leather puppets.  

The Journey of Navarasa
The Journey of Navarasa

For more information about the artworks and artists visit: bengaluruairport.com
 

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