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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Things to know about Lunuganga Estate - A European Renaissance Garden
Joanna James Joanna James
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Things to know about Lunuganga Estate - A European Renaissance Garden

Lunuganga estate is the country home of Geoffrey Bawa-a lawyer turned well-renowned architect in Sri Lanka. This is one of his most famous works. Here are more facts about it.


Who is Geoffrey Bawa?

He is the youngest son of Justice B.W.Bawa- a successful and wealthy lawyer and Mrs Bertha Marianne Schrader. He has an older brother who also became a famous landscape architect. Geoffrey was a student of the prestigious school- Royal College, Colombo who then went on to study Law and English in the UK. He became a Barrister in 1944 after which he returned to Sri Lanka (then named Ceylon) where he pursued law for 2 years. He then started travelling for 2 more years and wanted to buy a villa. He returned back to Sri Lanka in 1948 and purchased an abandoned rubber estate which he would later convert into the Lunuganga Estate.


Architecture- His Passion

Mr Bawa wanted to recreate a Renaissance Garden. However, realising that he lacked adequate architectural knowledge, decided to pursue his education in architecture in the UK. By 1957, he became an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects after which he returned to his motherland to work on his project. He is one of the distinguished personnel behind the idea of "tropical modernism".


Lunuganga Estate

This is an estate spanning 15 acres and is situated in Bentota- a southern coastal town, near the banks of the Dedduwa Lake. It is only an hour away from the colonial charms of Galle and less than 20 minutes away from the popular Bentota resort which is named the Avani Bentota Resort & Spa. The Sinhala word "lunuganga" translates into the salt river- thus acknowledging the river that runs in close proximity to the property.


History of Lunuganga

During the Dutch era, this was used as a cinnamon plantation while during the British era, it was converted into a rubber plantation. After having abandoned, it was spotted by Mr Bawa in 1947 who immediately fell in love with its luscious garden space. During this time, it was rented out to a local tax collector and it wasn't until next year that he was able to purchase the estate.


The Structure

It is quite interesting to take a look at the spaces which showcase the experiments of Geoffrey Bawa- the garden is scattered with many structures. The estate itself has an Entrance Court- which is the main entry into the house, the Red Terrace, the Water Garden- which combines both natural and artificial water sources, the Black Pavilion, the Watergate, the Gate House, the Yellow Courtyard, the Cinnamon Hill- a hill named to honour its past as a cinnamon plantation and the Cinnamon Hill house- the last addition to the garden before the demise of the architect.


Current Management

After Mr Bawa passed away in 2003, the estate is being managed by a few of the close friends who have initiated the Lunuganga Trust. They receive donations and the country house hotel is also open to the public along with the gardens for those who wish to revel in the beauty of the architecture and art.