Lunuganga-Bentota-Sri lanka-Boutique Hotels & Villas in Sri Lanka-Inland Villas and Mansions in Sri Lanka
Lunuganga, Bentota, 1948-1997
The garden at Lunuganga sits astride two low hills on a promontory which juts out into a brackish lagoon lying off the estuary of the Bentota River. In 1948, when Bawa first bought it, there was nothing here but an undistinguished bungalow surrounded by ten hectares of rubber plantation. Since then hills have been moved, terraces have been cut, woods have been replanted and new vistas have been opened up, but the original bungalow still survives within its cocoon of added verandas, courtyards, and loggias.
Lunuganga was conceived as a scenographic sequence of spaces.A narrow country leads from Bentota to a narrow causeway over a neck in the Dedduwa Lake from where a first, distant view of Lunuganga’s northern terraces can be glimpsed. The road then performs an almost full circle before connecting with a narrow track which crosses a paddy field and climbs up a steep wooded hill to arrive at the southern entrance court.
Visitors, confused and disoriented, are shepherded up the cascade of steps which lead to the south terrace of the house where, like people who have been spun around in a game of Blindman’s Buff, their blindfolds are removed. The view southwards is framed by a corridor of trees and takes in the Cinnamon Hill, punctuated by a single urn on its summit, the lake beyond and a white Buddhist dagoba on a distant hilltop: the eye runs down and up through a cone of space and leaps towards the temple and the sky.
To the north of the house lawns run down to the edge of a cliff which looks out across the lake. To the east a secluded terrace is defined be a series of pavilions – Bawa’s office, a sculpture court a small gallery. Steps lead down to the Cliff and the Broad Walk and eventually to the water gardens, with their checkerboard squares of rice paddy. To the west, hemmed in by forest, is the Field of Jars which leads up to the Cinnamon Hill and the southern edge of the peninsula.
This is not a garden of colourful flowers, neat borders and gurgling fountains: it is a civilised wilderness, an assemblage of tropical plants of different scale and texture, a composition of green on green, an ever changing play of light and shade, a succession of hidden surprises and sudden vistas, a landscape of memories and ideas. The whole of it can be taken in with a brisk fifteen-minute walk, but it requires days to explore its every corner and appreciate its changing moods.
Lunuganga now seems to be so established, so natural, that it is hard to appreciate how much effort has gone into its creation. But this is a work of art, not of nature; it is the contrivance of a single mind and a hundred hands working together with nature to produce something which is ‘super-natural’. Ignore it for a week and the paths will clog up leaves; leave it for a month and the lawns will run wild; after a year the terraces will crumble and the jungle will return forever.
The garden was celebrated with a collection of photographs made by Bawa’s friends Christoph Bon and Dominic Sansoni which was published in 1991. (Bawa et al 1991)). Bawa added his own short endpiece to the book:
For years the garden had grown gradually into a place of many moods, the result of many imaginings, offering me a retreat to be alone or to fellow-feel with friends. An added pleasure has been to observe the reactions of visitors, from the innocent comment of a friend of a friend – “but Mr. Bawa – wouldn’t this be a lovely place to turn into a garden?” – to the lorry driver who walked around whilst his bricks were being unloaded and said: “But this is a very blessed place!”
Lunuganga offers simple but luxurious accommodation in six self-contained rooms and suites which are a series of pavilions each with it’s own character, scattered around the garden. All of these are furnished exactly as they were in Bawa’s day. No part of Lunuganga was air-conditioned when Bawa was alive, as the tropical breeze that flows through the estate provides comfort for those who reside there. Today, only the main guest suite has air-conditioning as an option. Similarly Bawa’s plan never included a swimming pool, so none exists now but the beaches of Bentota & arranged pool facilities at neighbouring places are just 3 Km away. Arrangements are in place with neighbouring resorts for pool/beach facilities if guests so require.
The Cinnamon Hill House is a secluded villa on the southern edge of the garden, with 2 double room suites. Provision could be made to accommodate an additional guest per room.
Guests can indulge in a an array of activities which the Lunuganga staff would be happy to arrange inclusive of a delicious picnic lunch.
Set on a peninsula overlooking the lake, Lunuganga is a 2 ¼ hour drive from Colombo’s International Airport or, for those guests coming from the centre of the city of Colombo or from the southern seaside town of Galle, it is a 1 ½ hour drive. Lunuganga is just 10 minutes from the nearest beach and local village.Route map will be provided on inquiry. Lunuganga is located 3km inland from Bentota on Lake Dedduwa on Sri Lanka’s west coast.
Activities Available in Lunuganga-Bentota
Nature Trails and countryside walking
Photography and Filming
City - Bentota
Category - Inland Villas and Mansions
Distance from Colombo - 60 Km (2 hour drive)
Distance from Airport - 90 Km (2.45 hour drive)
Price Guide - Rates on Request
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