Guided Garden Tour
This inspirational experience takes place at Lunuganga, the former holiday home of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated architect, Geoffrey Bawa. Spread over 15 acres, this iconic estate sits on the banks of the Dedduwa Lake in Bentota. Lunuganga (meaning ‘salt river’ in Sinhalese), is said to have been used as a cinnamon and rubber plantation during the Dutch and British period respectively, before being taken over by Bawa in 1949 to develop as his weekend bungalow. The enchanting retreat and fascinating gardens were often considered a beautifully crafted experimental ground for Bawa, whose extraordinary work can be seen amidst the many architectural charms across the estate. Now, under the management of Teardrop Hotels, the estate continues to provide telling insights into the life’s work of this prolific architect. Elements of Italian Renaissance gardens, English landscaping, Japanese garden art, and the water gardens of ancient Sri Lanka come together to form Bawa’s most extravagant creation – a mecca for those enthusiastic about landscape design and architectural history.
Geoffrey Bawa was famous for his tropical modernist style of architecture, features of which include blurred boundaries between indoor and outdoor areas, linear verandas, and windows that framed views of both, inside and outside a room. Lunuganga now also includes the three-bedroom house of Bawa’s dear friend – Ena de Silva. A batik artist based in Colombo, Ena commissioned Bawa to design her home in 1962 – a pivotal project in his life’s work. In 2009, when the land was sold and the house planned to be demolished, the Bawa Trust stepped in with a brilliant idea – to relocate the house to No. 5 at Lunuganga, a space that borders Bawa’s Lunuganga estate. The house took three months to disassemble and six years to rebuild, and everything from the frangipani tree in the front courtyard to the slabs of river stone remains just as it was in the original house. A butler at Lunuganga will meet you on arrival and take you on a tour through the magical gardens. Every turn and bend in Lunuganga is an interesting experience – with so many exotic plants, trees, and views to take in. The house is adorned with paintings and photographs that are a marvel in its own right. You will also have the opportunity to visit No. 5 at Lunuganga (Ena’s House), if it isn’t occupied at the time.