Location: Bentota, Sri Lanka
Visiting Hours: 9.00 am to 4.00 pm daily
Ticket Price: Rs. 1250/=
Anyone who is interested in architecture of Sri Lanka, would know who Geoffery Bawa is. For those who doesn’t know, he is the most renowned architect of Sri Lanka. Most of the Architectural masterpieces that you admire, would be his designs. To name a few, Seema Malakaya, Parliament building and Kandalama Hotel comes under his list of creations. The Garden that we cite today, was his experimental laboratory, and by the description, his first love. Therefore, for architecture nerds, this place is educational heaven. And, for those who love travelling like us, this place is Love at first sight!
We were already impressed of Bawa brothers by our Brief Garden visit. Therefore, Lunuganga was in our To Do list for a very long time. Therefore, we made time to visit this well heard of place, during our visit to Bentota.
Trust Google maps to get to the park, you are bound to do what we did. Go in the wrong route!. The Google Map location is included in the post but we suggest you ask someone on the way as well for any uncertainty. First of all, you take your turn from the main road, the tracks keep disappearing until you get confused as to which turn you should take. The best we say is, It is a Dirt road towards your right side, and it is narrow. In conclusion, are bound to miss the turn if you don’t pay attention.
Even the entrance gate is dodgy. We actually passed the gate and drove ahead, thinking there may be a different entrance. There won’t be anyone at the gate, to give any information. It would only be a massive bell, hung above, which you have to ring a couple of times. After a couple of minutes, someone would appear at your service. You pay the entrance fee to him, and the garden tour begins.
The Garden tour consists of all the highlights of the Lunuganga Park. Each building, Monument, pot or statue has a meaning, a story behind it. Nothing in this place has just made it’s way to the garden. Everything is strategically put in place, or built. Some of the buildings are the experiments done for the major buildings that he has designed, such as the Parliament. Funny enough, he has designed a hen house, as a trial run before the Parliament was drafted. And There is a separate building known as “Cinnamon Hill House” where interior for Hotel Kandalama was created.
Ventilation, Sunlight, Color washing & Landscaping, is well thought out, and his motive was not to destroy the gifts of nature. His signature whitish Aralilya trees, the checkerboard Water Gate, Sandela Pavilion that accommodates natural light, would only make you be amazed at his talent in architecture. We hear from our guide, that he spends month, bending the branches of the trees by hanging different weights at different times, to get the perfect shape of the tree. I mean, who has that much of patience? he does!
Overnight Stay & Extra Details
After our visit, we learnt that you can stay at the place with an advanced booking. Or else, you can have tea or lunch, with prior notice. When there are guests at the premise, certain areas of the park is out of reach for the visitors, to accommodate privacy for the in-house guests. While It is spooky to stay overnight, as the area is so silent, you also do feel like staying over to experience it’s serenity just a bit more.
If you plan for a photo shoot, then this place is out of reach. It is a beautiful park, with so many lovely locations. So, can easily say it is the dream destination for a wedding photographer. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the park, photo shoots are not permitted. Because, it helps to preserve the state of the Park as we hear.
If I can remember clearly, the park is now maintained by a staff of 20. The management is under the Geoffery Bawa Foundation, and they rule and manage everything related to this property. Therefore, We recommend calling them in advance before you visit, to make sure they have not closed the park for maintenance etc.
Architecture fanatic or not, this is should go to your Sri Lanka Bucket List. Sure, you enjoy the pictures but what is there in reality, is much more. We were at Centara Ceysand hotel when during our Bentota visit. Rather, you can stay at Bentota Beach hotel. Because, it is also one of Geoffrey Bawa’s creations. As I mentioned earlier, The Breif Garden that we visit earlier, is done by his brother. While it looks the same, architecture-wise, I believe it Lunuganga is greater in size of area. Since, both these places are where the great architects resided, these spaces speaks more of their creative capacity than any other creation done by them.