Why on earth does Bangalore Metro look so ugly?

It is difficult for anybody who has seen or used the Delhi Metro to not wonder at how uninviting its Bangalore counterpart, or sections of it which are ready, is turning out to be. Admittedly, we are talking of two cities 2,500 kilometres adrift. And obviously Namma Metro is still a work in progress.

Still, the signs are all there that something is amiss (and these pictures, both shot in Bangalore on Thursday, provide some indication).

The obscene number of pillars, and the short span between them, as compared to Delhi; the slapdash job and finishing evident in the picture below; and the archtitectural mismatch that the Metro track presents with structures all around town, should leave an aesthete wondering.

Probably the topography and soil strength is different, requiring different strokes for different folks. Maybe the design and alignment of existing roads adds to the pressure. Maybe the Metro will look different in different parts of the City. Maybe by the time of the actual run, it will look neater, better. Maybe a few decent showers will clean up the mess.

Maybe.

But looking at pictures of the Namma Metro construction over a period of time, it is difficult to not wonder if, like the much-touted Bangalore international airport which has turned out to be a steel-and-glass cowshed compared to Delhi’s or Hyderabad’s new airports, is the Bangalore Metro showing similar signs of a ripoff in the name of public transport?

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

***

The Namma Metro photo portfolio

If only someone could do this to save our State

“No free left” for residents of a famous highrise

Remember the helmets when it rains (or shines)

At Anil Kumble circle, a sharp googly to KSCA

In the darkness of night, a ray of light at 19:12:30 hours

The biggest day in the history of Bangalore?

Do not try this at home (if you have a few bogies)

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

The giant violin-box hanging above ‘Parades’

It’s still not here, but it’s already kind of here

Yes, it’s for real, and it’s purple and off-white

4 cars, 3 SUVs, 8 bikes, and 16 autorickshaws

Oh God, what have they done to my M.G. Road

Saturdays, girlfriends, popcorn and other memories

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s can fill a tome.

Not a picture that will make it to Lonely Planet

Amar, Akbar, Antony. Or Ram, Robert, Rahim

Only a low-angle shot can convey its great girth

Lots of work overground for an underground rail

The unsung heroes in the dreams of Bangaloreans

On top down under, a tale of a work in progress

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46 Responses to “Why on earth does Bangalore Metro look so ugly?”

  1. Kiran K S Says:

    First of all it is Bengaluru. Let’s get out of the British era terms.

    Secondly, Bengaluru airport is a steel & glass cowshed? Could reality be any different than it? By the way I use both Devanahalli and Shamshabad airports regularly. Both are fairly good.

    You might be surprised to learn that Bengaluru airport has been rated in 2011, as the BEST airport in India, ahead of the other two you quoted.

    Look at this World Airport Awards website.

    http://www.worldairportawards.com/Awards_2011/bestairport_india.htm

    We can always praise T3 of Delhi and Hyderabad airport, without imposing undue criticism to a fairly well built & well managed Bengaluru airport.

  2. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Churmuri has asked a very pertinent question. The thing is that it is not just Bangalore that is ugly, the entire country is.

    Why?

    Because a much of socialist philistines, with no sense of art, culture or aesthetics have ruled us for so long.

    it is time for people to take over and start beautifying their living areas by themselves.

    No more big government. Freedom is what we need.

  3. Alok Prasanna Kumar Says:

    The new sections of Delhi Metro are far more hideous. But it seems pretty because of the larger part of it which is underground, something that’s possible in Delhi’s softer soil.

  4. Anurag Murthy Says:

    definitely , looks like local construction. second hand construction.
    looks like Gowda and Kheny were involved seeing the number of pillars – one for me one for you.

  5. rak Says:

    I think they both look equally ugly, in their own special way.

  6. rak Says:

    I think they both , in their own special way, look equally ugly.

  7. Anil Says:

    haha ….. gud article.

  8. vindy Says:

    somehow i think, in the battle b/w of grandeur vs practicality , practicality is winning and the metro or the airport are cases in point

  9. Hemant Bhatia Says:

    @Churumuri get over with it damnit….namma metro is gonna be another state of the art metro system in India & thats a gift to all banglorians which should be acknowledged, rather all Indians should cherrish this mega project instead of senselessly calling it UGLY…
    im a daily commuter of the Delhi metro and would like to tell you that the Namma’s coaches are better than the ones that were launched initially in Delhi metro Phase 1, i mean more advanced technically…
    They have cctv footage recording, black boxes etc which is missing in delhi metro’s initial coaches even till now..Moreover, both namma’s and delhi’s initial coaches are both manufactured by the same company (ROTEM BEML) in the same factory..
    the only difference is that namma currently has 3 coaches(which can be extended in near future upto 8 coaches as the need increases) whereas Delhi initially had 4 coaches and at present it has 4-6 coaches …

    Also Namma has 3rd rail technology of coach electrification which is far more neat in appearance than Delhi’s over head wiring over the trains….
    so please do some research on your side instead of talking gibberish..!!

    regards

  10. Agnel Says:

    you sure that’s a delhi pic? look at the bus. the “karn”. the rickshaws.

  11. RR Says:

    It’s definitely an interesting point. However, I also want to point out that some of the metro stations (by design at least) look fantastic. That said, Colour me hopeful. These are signs of a work-in-progress.

    The Bangalore airport definitely is worse than Shamshabad airport. However, the New Delhi airport is a disaster. While comfy and very consumerish (it’s a frickin’ mall), it’s got the worst cycle and lead times that I have ever seen. Hyderabad has been an absolute pleasure to travel to and from.

    Bangalore still has a long way to go and yes – the steel and glass cowshed certainly has a familiar ring to it.

  12. mounaprasad Says:

    The best metro I have seen in India is Calcutta Metro. A class above to either Delhi or the proposed Namma metro. Most of the construction work that is being done on Namma Metro is from companies outside the state and it is anybody’s guess how the quality will be given the propensity of bribing to get away with substandard work. I dread to see the day some accident happens on namma metro and chaos that it would cause for the rescue teams to reach the accident spot with little to no access roads.

  13. manoj Says:

    I think the top pic is also Bengaluru. The BMTC bus, the auto color and moreover you can see the namma metro logo on the carriage

  14. Shenoi Says:

    Yes,it does looks aesthetically dull
    May be one is made by a seasoned technocrat railwayman and another by a bureaucrat. A seasoned architect or engineer usually develops an eye for aesthetics as he gains experience. The delay in commissioning the first phase may also be due to lack of prior knowledge how to go about getting approval from Commissioner of safety, Railways.
    It is always best to leave the job to a competent specialist and give him all the support. That was what was done during Nehru era. American designer Slocum for Bhakra Nangal, Tirumala Rao for Hiracud and Le carbusier for Chandigarh. But then centre and state control politics is there hard to ignore

  15. M Says:

    Sorry, I cannot see any contrasting differences between the two pictures.

    May be I lack artistic vision! Or may be my eyes are not of unequal vision as that of the author!

    As to objective mantra; pleaaaaze don’t blame everything on politicians. Look at Kengal Hanumanthia’s Vidhan Soudha. Modern Indians as a whole lack architectural aesthetics. Most of the homes in Bangalore and rest of the country, including that of learned and highly educated people are hideous to the core. Because, we believe in quantity not quality. We are more interested in the number of ‘attached bathrooms’ than an ornate garden while buying a house.

    Our artistic creativity is restricted to shlokas, carnatic and bharathanatya.

    In a democracy it is ” yatha praja thata raja” not the other way round!

  16. Metro Watcher Says:

    Your Delhi Metro pic is wrong. Both pics shown are of Namma Bengaluru.

    Namma Metro uses 3rd rail technology which provides better aesthetics compared to overhead electrical wires used in Delhi.

    Of course, the finishing is terrible in both places. Smooth contours are missing, and even on level roads, the viaduct does not seem to have straight lines!!. The finish quality is no different than any other public project in our country. Even many large private projects have the same ‘finishing’ problems. It has to do with low level of technical skills and the attention to details we pay.

    At this stage, the focus should be on safety and prompt completion of the project without any cost overruns.

  17. sanjeeva Says:

    As the post says, topography and soil of Delhi and Bengaluru are different. Delhi roads have been wide for a long time. Bangalore roads have been narrow and the shape of the city is like Jalebi! There is hardly any single road which is straight. Unfortunately, even now when the road widening works are going on everywhere, no attempt is made to keep the roads straightened. Curves and zigzag roads continue, which hamper the smooth traffic flow and in turn adding to ugliness.

  18. Abhi Says:

    More pertinent question is will it make the traffic any less barbaric?

    I care less for how it looks given that there could be a civil war anyday soon because of traffic.

  19. twistleton Says:

    For all you confused souls, both pictures ARE of Bangalore metro; the author has inserted the parantheses in an inconvenient place. :)

    In some ways the metro is a metaphor for our society – a work in progress. There are reasons for the ‘abhorrent lack of taste’; some very good ones.

    As for the Namma Metro, I would rather there was NO metro at all. It again comes down to a complete lack of imagination and resource.

    Why go for a grandiose scheme of things when true ‘jugaad’ gives so much more flexibility and room for tweaks and changes, besides being economically efficient.

    Our mistaken sense of pride, i suppose – also a work in progress. :D

  20. Super Nan Maga Says:

    Still dont understand why we have made our life a mess for 42 kms of railway kambi . Back in the day byappahalli to vidhana souda was easy breezy ride on bicycle.Now with number of vehicles quadrupling every day and add to that dodging the pillars and construction we are in this mess. A low cost solution like extending and elongating the Cubbon park puttani train would have been faster and worthwhile.

  21. karihaida Says:

    Churumuri is right… Its time to demolish this hideous thing and make it more aesthetically pleasing.
    BTW NHRC should get involved as this metro could be dangerous for people squatting on the track due to the third electric line..

  22. Shankara S Says:

    I thought they sent a few delegations to Singapore to study their metro lines? Namma metro was supposed to look and operate like theirs?

  23. sahana Says:

    We deserve it saaaar !

  24. Deepak Says:

    Lol @ karihaida’s comment. What a human rights tragedy it will be!! How dare these @#%& guys create trouble for those who want to exercise their biological rights!!!

  25. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    After reading all the responses, I realise that this is a much more complicated issue than what I initially thought.

    This is a cultural issue and hence subject to many different interpretations.

    In INdian culture, you can only show respect to a guru or saint by touching his feet or sitting at his feet. This is not the right way, but that’s the way this country is.

  26. Shrinivas Says:

    Doorada Betta NuNNage

  27. Ashoka Says:

    With so many bumps on the rails…its a real surprise the damn thing works!

    And Bengaluru or Bangalore…its no big deal. We get the same shit either way.

  28. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    When have any of our rulers (going back to thousands of years) built any public works that was aesthetically pleasing? Beauty was meant for the gods, or the kings. Ignore the temples and palaces (I’m not even sure of the palaces….most of the ones I know of are barely 100-200 years old) and all we have is ugliness.

    Bengaluru is an ugly city. The metro fits right in.

  29. B.S.Nagaraj Says:

    Somebody here was spot on — The metro is a good fit for the city. It did everything it could to destroy once and for all several roads that were beautiful earlier. I wept when I saw MG Road after the pillars came up. Bengalooru in recent years is ugliness all the way. Look at the kitsch painted on the walls supposedly to beautify the city. Hideous apartment complexes and malls. Like in politics — does BSY know the meaning of aesthetics? — there’s no class left anymore in any walk of life in Bengalooru. Actually this is true of India as a whole.

  30. poli huduga Says:

    @Shankara – yes, they probably sent delegations to Singapore but after all the shopping and sightseeing, there was no time to actually see the metro system there.

    Nothing that cannot be fixed by another shopping trip… er.. official visit. ;)

  31. Chanakya Says:

    The fact of the matter is, Metro does look ugly.

    @Kiran K, Unfortunately, having to travel weekly to HYD, RIA is head and shoulders above BIA in style and quality. BIA is utilitarian and better than HAL but compare the 20 minute commute of RIA via Nehru outer ring road(4 lanes each way with 2 lane feedeers that put some US highways to shame and it is not just this one road) to the 2+ hour mess in Bangalore and BIA is no comparison. How can any airport that did not think of the commute to/from the airport be anywhere near top-10 ? Even namma Mysorina putta airport has better access ree..

    RIA along with Cyberabad and the financial district have seen such a phenominal rise that compares to only Gurgaon. Roads in the newer parts of Hyderabad are good and well maintained – Cyberabad, Madhapur, Gachibowli, Banjara-Jubilee Hills.

    Namma Bengalurinalli naavu great antha bari helode aagide marayare ; torisokke irodu bhari kadime…

    Thanks to Telengana, we still see people flock to Bengaluru (also thanks to the better quality IT workforce…). We should stop saying we are good and maybe wake up and do something ? We are not good and we are not definitely the best be in in airports, metro or city planning.

  32. Srini Says:

    The Metro Stations resemble the Chennai MRTS stations very closely

  33. babuds Says:

    It is not enough to say it ugly. One needs to describe it in words, which I attempt here. The pics look like some kind of organism making its way on an elevated gutter. Eeek!

  34. Bhanu Vadlakonda Says:

    Hyderabad Airport – Sachin Tendulkar
    Bangalore Airport – Sehwag

    Bangalore airport has its flaws but is a nice one.

  35. Koffee King Says:

    I don’t care if it is ugly, my biggest fear not that. How long will the thing stay up? Even during construction we saw cracks in the support columns, misplaced track sections that were not properly secured, and all sorts of other problems. With the amount of money looted in this deal, and the low quality of materials used, I am almost sure one section will come crashing down after a few months or years of use.

  36. JeevanSaathi Says:

    Another hopelessly implemented project By Govt of Useless Karnataka!!
    Take a leaf from Andhra – they have a better Airport, Better Ring Road, Better Metro planned, Many Power Projects under construction!!

    Karnataka – seems to be going the BIHAR way!! Useless Ring Road. The Airport is laughable – one big glass box!! The metro looks downright Sub saharan!!! No power projects under construction!!!

    Only Karnataka Politicians can know how to kill the goose that lays golden eggs so effortlessy!!!

  37. chandan Says:

    Namma Metro is the best metro in india……its is similar to delhi metro…namma metro techonology is Hi tech…Kolkata metro is good but it is non AC(trains) & non techonology/non safety,as bcos non maintaince.

  38. Venkatarama Muthuswami Says:

    Forget about finesse or look or user-friendlyness. NY metros may not look great, but the whole infrastructure incl the underground/over ground trains are most user friendly. On day one of my arrival in NYC I was able to use the subway, and change trains at the subways of Grand Central and at Times Squares, without any help.
    Here in our non-stop India, we build the public conveniences and utilities NOT for people, but to make money for the politico-contractors nexus. Despite incredible potential for becoming a truly great nation, we may end up being rich, but being poor in integrity.
    Beware, younger generation!

  39. Sai Kiran Sharma Says:

    There is something called Soil Strength, which plays a major role, a major role in how a structure has to be built etc. One has to keep in mind that, Bengaluru is situated in the western ghats, Same western ghats which houses Konkan Railways, which was one of the toughest Engineering Projects in India.

  40. Shamanth Kumar Says:

    To be frank- namma metro looks more better than rajadhani’s. I have been travelling in raj dhani metro since last feb(2011) . But I can proudly say that namma metro looks good , colorful. . . of-course, its in initial stage & have got lot to get it done. . . let us wait . And Delhi Metro is also Constructed with its Raj dhani styls!!!!!!!! Both are nice. . . . I pray. . . Pillars should lasts longer. . . .

  41. IWonder Says:

    Why is everything ugly about the Indians?

    Their persona, their cities, their houses, their streets.

    I guess the world could have done without this country and it’s poor and hungry population.

  42. prasad krishna Says:

    please clean first the city like foreign cities,reduce the auto rikshwas,old vertions……

  43. Vijay Says:

    What is missing is a design statement & a design director at the metro. See old bangalore building like the High court, they had a style that was distinctively bangalorean. When a public project of this size is deigned ( that can change the look of the entire city) it is necessary to have a design statement. How would you like your future city to look: Glass & steel or Wood & Brick or ACP & Glass or Steel Or Modern or Minimalistic etc…you need to decide that. Then you need to implement that. Here is where you need a design director who could co-ordinate all the aspects: from station designs to feel of coaches to art installations etc.But then….we are a developing nation ( developing since god knows how many years) & so we will settle for anything that does the work rather than something that does the work nicely.

  44. Anirudh Says:

    screw all this.BANGALORE/BENGALURU is THE best city

  45. devendermishra Says:

    When phase 1 will be complete and you will start reaping its benefit, then you will not complain about its ugliness. After all, metro train aims to facilitate public movement. It is not for beauty contest among the cities.

    In Delhi, metro has changed the skyline of the city. But people do not complain. Rather they use metro trains for commuting.

  46. chidu22 Says:

    WTF is ‘namma Metro’, do we have to ape the neighbouring states like Maharashtra which calls everything in Bombay with ‘aamchi’ this and that. If you are ashamed of using authentic kannada words to your institutions then it doesn’t mean that you come with stupid hybrid names,Disgusting!!!

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