Valentine’s Day 2014 and our main plan is a travel plan.
Traveling from Mangalore, Karnataka, India to Los Angeles, California, via Mumbai, Maharastra, India.
As we reached Mumbai we did not have a valid boarding pass printed so we had to take a taxi from the Domestic Terminal to the International Terminal of the Mumbai airport (as opposed to using the terminal transfer bus otherwise provided).
We approached the majestic new Terminal 2 after a small detour due to the driver getting “somewhat” lost. We attributed this to the typical ongoing construction that most major airports are accustomed to, not realizing that it was a completely new airport.
It was an amazing view!! It felt surprisingly quieter than most other Indian airports. It was also surprisingly cleaner and whiter. It is in fact quite challenging to keep structures looking clean and new due to the weather conditions and high humidity and marine salty air of Mumbai.
We later found out that the terminal had actually only been in use since 2 days prior. Had it not been for the information desk telling us that it was only its 3rd day in operation we would not have known. In fact, except for a few minor glitches (wi-fi was not working, no public phones were yet installed and at the gates the bathrooms had no water) the whole terminal appeared to work quite smoothly.

Mumbai Terminal 2 exterior

Exterior of Mumbai Terminal 2 at dusk

Mumbai Terminal 2 exterior

Exterior of Mumbai Terminal 2 at dusk

Other tell-tale signs that the terminal was freshly into operation were the fresh flower garlands (malas) adorning all the airlines office doors in the basement labyrinth.

Once inside the space was very comfortable and functional.
The white columns in the check-in area evoked the stylized theme of the peacock feathers, characteristic of Indian art. The columns drew the eye to the seamless connection with the wide expanse of the ceiling. As a whole the space felt sheltering and struck the perfect balance and proportion with the human scale, leaving a desire to explore further the columns visible in the distance.

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2- Column detail

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2- Column detail

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2

Interior of Mumbai Terminal 2

The lighting panels serving the check-in desks were another expression of the Indian artistic heritage that guides the overall Terminal 2 design concept.

Mumbai Terminal 2

Mumbai Terminal 2

Here they also had a scaled model of the new terminal.

Mumbai Terminal 2

Model of New Mumbai Terminal 2

Even at the immigration line the careful attention to detail can be seen through a beautifully handcrafted wood door on the side.

The waiting areas at the gates gave more the feeling of being in a luxury hotel lobby than an airport. All this achieved through the use of graceful chandeliers in the shape of lotuses at different stages of blooming, warm colors and luscious vegetation.

Mumbai Terminal 2

Waiting area at gates

Mumbai Terminal 2

Waiting area at gates

The gates were equipped with “green walls” and throughout there were planters showcasing amazingly real greenery.

Mumbai Terminal 2

Mumbai Terminal 2 gates

Mumbai Terminal 2

Green panel at gates

Once I arrived home I decided to explore further into the creation of this new architectural gem and I found this inspiring video. It describes a whole other aspect of the terminal that I did not even get to experience (since it is mainly reserved to the arriving passengers). A showcase of India’s large artistic heritage, old and new, and the majestic feat of pulling it all together. It is about 30 minutes, but definitely worth watching.
If you are not up to such a long video here is a shorter one from the airport website.

If you have the chance to travel through Mumbai I would recommend making sure you have enough time to explore and enjoy this treasure upon your arrival. I know I sure will!

Then, our next stop was a stark contrast to the magnificent Mumbai Airport as we found ourselves in any other airport. It becomes clear then that they achieved their goal in differentiating themselves from the rest of the world.

Any other Airport

Any other Airport

One good feature here however were the continuous seating (without armrest) and a clear invitation to stretch out and rest (a nice pillows throughout) during the long international layovers.

Mumbai10

Invitation to rest

You really cannot beat that!
Happy travels!