A guide to India’s 10 busiest airports

(CNN) — The sheer volume of people traveling both to and within India each year is staggering.
In 2017, the country recorded an impressive 1.6 billion domestic travelers. That same year, the number of international arrivals shot up to 10.04 million, representing a 14% uptick compared with 2016, according to the government’s latest tourism report, which does not yet offer data on 2018.

So which airports are the busiest?

Here, we look at the country’s most popular facilities and what they have to offer travelers. All data has been sourced from the latest annual Airports Authority of India traffic report (April 2018-March 2019).

Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi

These elephant sculptures await travelers heading to Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport.

These elephant sculptures await travelers heading to Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport.


Passengers: 69.2 million

Foreign travelers will spend most of their time at T3 — the 2.7 million square foot international terminal — which is the first LEED-NC Gold certified terminal in India. The building has lots of natural light, as well as electric vehicles and a rainwater harvesting program.

There are all kinds of modern amenities, from a dedicated spa (O2 Spa) to free WiFi, luggage storage, a children’s play area, device charging stations and also sleeping pods (such as Sams Snooze at My Space) for some shuteye in between connections.

There’s even a flight simulator experience dubbed “The Cockpit” in the international terminal, where you can try your hand at flying a Boeing 737.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport Mumbai

Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport's ultramodern T2 opened in 2014.

Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport’s ultramodern T2 opened in 2014.


Passengers: 48.8 million

Serving India’s commercial capital, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport Mumbai is one of the most beautiful airports in the country.

Opened in 2014, the ultramodern Terminal 2 — designed by renowned American architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill — is particularly pleasant.

The first thing you notice inside the dramatic check-in reception hall? Soaring ceilings and bright white columns that mushroom upwards, bringing to mind a larger-than-life forest.

There are local accents everywhere, from jali-inspired window screens to airy pavilions, mirrored mosaics and lotus-shaped chandeliers.

Then there’s Jaya He — an enormous art museum that plays host to more than 5,000 art pieces, artifacts and installations from around the country.

Better yet, the airport offers free 15-minute guided “Jaya He Safaris” — you just have to book online ahead of time.

Throughout the terminal, services cover all the bases, including duty-free shopping, rest areas, meditation rooms, free WiFi, several spas and childcare rooms and play areas.

Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore

Bangalore's Kempegowda International Airport is southern India's busiest airport.

Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport is southern India’s busiest airport.

Subhendu Sarkar/LightRocket/Getty Images

Passengers: 33.3 million

Another beautiful architectural project, Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore debuted in 2008.

Designed by global architecture firm HOK, the elegant structure has stood the test of time with its nature-oriented design.

Steel branches hold up an undulating roof, while sky-high glass walls and lots of greenery nod to Bangalore’s reputation as India’s “Garden City.”

It might look serene from the outside, but this is actually the busiest airport in southern India — and growing rapidly. By 2030, the airport expects to serve an additional 45 million passengers per year.

The airport also plans introduce a second runway in 2019, with more development projects underway.

The experience is relatively efficient, with self-baggage checks, free WiFi, a boutique day hotel, several lounges, restaurants and duty-free shopping.

Chennai International Airport

Staff check out one of the humanoid robots in the arrival hall of Chennai International Airport.

Staff check out one of the humanoid robots in the arrival hall of Chennai International Airport.


Passengers: 22.5 million

Opened in 2013, Chennai International Airport features a column-free terminal with a graceful curved roof.

Constructed with a mix of steel and recycled local materials, the airport’s H-shaped structure is designed to minimize the distance traveled by passengers.

Meanwhile, vertical gardens and natural light aim to make the space feel more open and relaxing.

Chennai International isn’t yet as streamlined as the top three airports in India, but that’s quickly changing.

The government, which runs the airport, has plans to expand capacity to 30 million passengers by 2021.

Currently, facilities are more limited than other major airports — slow immigration channels, unreliable WiFi, and construction noise are just a few of the headaches.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata

Passengers: 21.8 million

Located in Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is among India’s most modern aviation gateways.

Opened in 2013, the airport’s L-shaped international terminal (Terminal 2) sports a pared-back design and uses solar power to offset energy needs.

There are also lots of shopping and dining options, plus services like luggage storage and day beds.

As one of the fastest-growing airports in India, a third terminal is already in the works to keep up with passenger capacity.

With the new terminal, the airport should be able to accommodate up to 40 million travelers annually by 2021.

Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad

Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport opened in 2008.

Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport opened in 2008.

AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Passengers: 21.4 million

Opened in March 2008, Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is widely considered one of the most efficient transit experiences in India.

It’s streamlined, clean and incredibly tech-savvy, having introduced India’s first airport biometric face-recognition software last year.

The airport is also considered one of the “greenest” in India. It won Gold in the ACI Asia-Pacific Green Airports Recognition 2018 awards for its extensive green landscaping (971 hectares of natural greenery and counting), carbon emission reduction, natural lighting, waste-water reuse program, rainwater harvesting and food waste composting program, just to name a few.

In terms of the travel experience, there’s free WiFi, movies on demand, childcare facilities, a spa, luggage services and several dining and shopping options.

Like most of India’s busiest airports, Rajiv Gandhi has ambitious plans to expand its main terminal, add a runway, incorporate rail transit links and even unveil India’s largest mega convention center — all by 2022.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad

India's Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, the gateway to Gujarat.

India’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, the gateway to Gujarat.


Passengers: 11.1 million

In northwestern India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport serves the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat state. It takes its name from Sardar Patel, a politician who was the first Deputy Prime Minister of India.

Opened in 1937, the airport first served as a hub for domestic transit. later expanding to operate international flights in 1991.

There are currently two passenger terminals and, as you might have guessed, a third should begin construction this year.

From an international tourist’s perspective, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport offers easy access to Gujarat’s many natural wonders thanks to direct flights from several global cities including London, Bangkok, Singapore and Dubai.

Cochin International Airport, Kochi

Cochin International Airport's new Terminal 3.

Cochin International Airport’s new Terminal 3.

Preju Suresh/Shutterstock

Passengers: 10.1 million

Easily recognizable thanks to its red roof, Cochin International Airport just debuted a new international terminal last year.

Terminal 3 is modern and convenient, offering WiFi, duty-free shopping, restaurants, lounges and much more.

In addition to all of the usual cosmetics and liquor brands, you will also find some high-quality shops selling handmade scarves and local snacks from the state of Kerala.

It’s also home to the large Cial Trade Fair and Exhibition Center, making this a popular port of call for business travelers.

One of the most surprising attractions? The airport runs the Cial Golf Club, adjacent to the airport, which you can visit with a day pass.

Pune International Airport

Passengers: 9 million

One of India’s fastest growing airports in terms of passenger traffic, Pune International Airport offers an alternative way to access Maharashtra state, being located just 125 kilometers southeast of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.

It has just one terminal servicing both domestic and international traffic, but officials are reportedly working to expand the facility to keep up with immense passenger growth.

Services include free WiFi, duty-free shopping and a variety of restaurants and lounges.

Dabolim Airport, Goa

Dabolim Airport offers easy access to Goa's beautiful beaches.

Dabolim Airport offers easy access to Goa’s beautiful beaches.

Joe Ravi/Shutterstock

Passengers: 8.4 million

Also known as Goa Airport, Dabolim Airport opened an upgraded international terminal in 2013.

Six years on, the terminal still feels modern, with thoughtful touches such as a spacious check-in reception and a few leisure facilities.

Frequently operating at overcapacity, the airport will soon be joined by a new airport in Mopa, to the north, in 2020.

This article originally appeared here