Bengaluru goes hi-tech ….

Duty Free Shopping Bengaluru AirportThe city of Bangalore, dubbed India’s Silicon Valley, has a modern airport to match its IT status***

Bengaluru International Airport (BLR) is widely regarded as one of the best air gateways in India. As a green-field development opened in May 2008, it had the advantage of being designed from scratch which means that its travel retail and shopping offer is not cramped or constrained • but neither is it overly expansive.

Voted the best Indian airport in a survey by Skytrax, and owner and operator Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has been very active in promoting its hub to the world. BIAL is keen to publicise the fact that its retail offer includes more than 5,000 brands, while the duty free shops • in both departures and arrivals • feature over 10,000 products on their own. The category list has also been widened compared with the old Bangalore Airport, to include, for example, fine foods and wines, plus champagne and large confectionery and skincare sections.

One handy aspect of BLR is that all the shopping is in one terminal, divided into domestic and international sections, and the design uses a walk-through format which means you will not have to waste time searching for brands or shops.

In departures, domestic travellers have a large 1,680 sqm store run by Shoppers Stop one of India’s largest lifestyle departmental store groups. The shop has a wide product assortment from cosmetics and perfumes, jewellery and personal accessories, to women’s shoes and handbags, plus western and Indian apparel. The choice of high-end beauty brands may not be as wide as in other Asian airports but you can still find the likes of L’Oréal, Maybelline, Revlon, Shiseido, and YSL. Fashion and accessories are both international and Indian, with brands that include Austin Reed, Calvin Klein Jeans, Guess, Haute Curry, Hidesign, Kashish, Levi’s, Swarosvki, The Spirit of India, Tommy Hilfiger and UCB.

Just behnd this main store is Mithaas • also a Shoppers Stop unit • where the sweet-toothed and tea drinkers will be at home. Here Lindt from Switzerland and Italy’s Ferrero Rocher rub shoulders with savoury snacks like cashews from Delinut of Kerala, Thailand’s Tong Garden and Indian sweets from Anand. The teas include favourites like Assam and Darjeeling as well as Nilgiris, all perfect gifts for friends and family. Sandalwood ornaments, silverware, and finely-crafted pens can also be found here.In the centre space you will see a fashion area in which Carbon, a jewellery retailer, may well grab your attention. Carbon has an exclusive range of diamond and gold, moulded into pendants, rings, bangles, and earrings, but be aware that, in India, more blingy and decorated jewellery is the general preference.

In the international departures section, after security passengers are funnelled through the curvy walk-through duty free store but there are other more specialist units to choose from. The Spirit of India sits in an island location and is ideal if you want to sift through eclectic ethnic merchandise, as a gift or just to take home for yourself. The shop offers authentic Indian craftsmanship whether you are looking for Indian handicrafts or fashion. Sharing the island is one of India’s leading designers from Bangalore, Deepika Govind. Her fashion is a pared down, contemporary look fusing eastern and western styles. The collection ranges from evening essentials to men’s semi-formal wear, all in natural fabrics, plus some handcrafted jewellery.

Next to the duty free shop is Crossword, India’s lifestyle bookstore, which offers a nicely laid-out selection of books, magazines, CDs, stationery, music, and toys and where the staff are low-key, helping to create a relaxed and engaging atmosphere. Next door Sound & Vision is the place for cameras, electronic accessories, games consoles, DVDs and the usual travel accessories. The camera ranges come with a ‘best-price’ guarantee but, as always, it’s worth doing some downtown and destination research before you buy an expensive item here.

Finally, if you are a watch fanatic, you can indulge your passion at the elegant Ethos store, part of India’s first premium watch chain. The shop offers over 25 popular international brands including Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Carl F Bucherer, Christian Dior, Frank Mueller, Omega, Tag Heuer and many more. The price range is broad but be prepared to start at around $250 and go up to around $2,500.

Factfile

  • Airlines: Just under 30 of which the biggest (by number of routes) are Air India, Jet Airways, JetLite, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir.
  • Worth knowing: BLR was planned to handle less than 4m passenger but the design was re-worked almost from the start to cope with a revised 12m throughput which has almost been reached. A new terminal is now being built to extend the capacity to 17m.