Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Former home of Architect Geoffrey Bawa

Words: Rosie Atkins

Having had a lifetime of visiting gardens, the late Geoffrey Bawa’s home in Sri Lanka is one of the most memorable. We arrived at Lunuganga in the dark and followed a trail of fishermen’s lamps to an apartment, which had once housed his Rolls Royce.  We woke to a view of a beautiful courtyard and the prospect of immersing ourselves in a landscape that took Bawa 40 years to create.

Bawa began transforming his rubber plantation in 1948, experimenting with form and space but also having fun. His herd of black and white Friesians cows were washed down in the lake to maximise their visual impact. He was also known to rearrange the spots on his Dalmatian with a black marker pen.

Not to be missed

Look out for the branches of the frangipani trees which Bawa weighted down to frame the view on the terrace. Sitting eating the wonderful local food your eyes are drawn to the ever-changing light on the branches. I admired the palm-leaf broom, used to spike up fallen leaves and before we left there were two waiting for me to take home.

Bawa designed his house and garden to promote creative thinking and you soon begin to read the landscape’s changing moods.  Rice is planted to ripen in succession and the lily ponds glint in the sun, as do the pots in the Field of Jars.

Quibble

I really couldn’t find one.  Lunuganga is now run by a not-for-profit trust, set up by sensitive and caring people who knew Bawa well.  It is a most precious work of art.

How to get there

Lunuganga.com is about two hours drive south of Colombo. Our driver had difficulty finding it in the dark. (See map) Website:  For advice contact The Manager on lunuganga@sltnet.lk, or call +94344287056