Architects / Archivists / Artists / Singapore Airlines

Bawa’s Tropical Garden

Cover image

…A few hours south of the capital, the gardens at Lunuganga are still and quiet. Over the lake, clouds are gathering with the promise of rain. My guide and I go for long stretches without seeing anyone else. Pointing out places of interest, Isuru Randeni leads the way.

Lunuganga was Bawa’s magnum opus, a space in which he straddled the line between control and abandon. He allowed the garden to remain a wild, secretive space, where tall trees stand like sentinels and a symphony of hundreds of birds is only interrupted by the rude grunting of monkeys swinging in the branches overhead.

The Trust runs two tours every day, and it or even stay in one of several buildings on the property. After our trek, I sit down to a dinner table groaning under the weight of a traditional meal: sweet pineapple is stewed and laced with chilli; green leaves and grated coconut are finely chopped into a raw mallung, a traditional salad; translucent slices of cucumber soak in a delicate coconut-milk gravy; and caramelised eggplant is paired with tiny onions. There is a plate heaped with red rice, and a bowl full of fiery chicken curry. It is a reminder that a Sri Lankan meal is a feast. I help myself to the crispy poppadum as darkness falls over the lake.

Excerpt from cover story in SliverKris, March 2019. By Smriti Daniel.