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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Garden of Bawa's Eden

The late Geoffrey Bawa was a prolific Sri Lankan architect born in 1919 and died of a stroke in 2003. He pioneered the use of modern lines to simplify spaces. Bawa loved nature and broke the barriers of inside and outside living. His use of courtyards and gardens is widely respected and often said to form the current architectural model for the Tropical House.

Since 1948, Bawa used the Lunuganga Gardens as his private retreat. 12 acres of rubber plantation were fringed by a lake and a river - Salt River or Lunuganga.

We took the hour long tour around the gardens and visited the cottages that dot the landscape. He created wide grassy boulevards sheltered by frangipani trees and skirted by lily ponds. Every now and then, we come across a concrete bench under a massive flowering tree. The guide tells us that he often sit and read in these parts and there he hangs a large bell so he can ring for tea. The bench is now weathered and covered in moss but the ancient bells remain.

( pics via )

The guide who took us didn't speak very good english and we struggled to understand each other. One of the things that baffled us was his reference to a beef garden ?!

We emerged from a set of trees and we arrived at the Cinnamon hill cottage which looked onto a large grass garden. In that garden, there were two cows grazing aka beef garden! Haha. Bawa apparently loved cows and he kept them as pets.

The last part of the walking tour took us to the main house and at first approaching the house, it looked tame and nice though it was, nothing spectacular.

But when you pass through the corridor, you come to the verandar that had the breathtaking view. It was here they would serve a lunch of Sri lankan curry and rice. Love.

Directly in front of the sitting area was a tortured Auraliya tree or Frangipani as we know them. Bawa had placed strategic weights on its branches to train it to grow low and wide creating the most beautiful framed vista of the lake down below.

The tour and lunch cost USD 22 each. We were served ice cold pitchers of lime juice sodas while we waited for the famous curry rice lunch.

12 dishes in total ! There was pineapple curry, beetroot curry ( my fav), eggplant and mango relish, chicken curry, dhal, beans and more... everything was delicious.

We stuffed our faces so much that we didn't have dinner that night!

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