A Decade of Love: Our Amazing Sri Lankan Honeymoon (Part 2a): Induruwa, Galle, Colombo)

Up to this day I wonder what difference it would’ve made if we had made Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton our last stop because the views, the service, the food — everything — was pretty darned hard to top.

The reason we decided to go there at the beginning of our trip was because:

  1. After a hectic week leading up to the wedding, we needed a damn good retreat
  2. After reading the reviews, I didn’t think we could’ve waited for it to be at the end of the trip
  3. We didn’t want to lug souvenirs we’d be buying from Colombo all over Sri Lanka if we went to Colombo first

Whatever it is, our trip still turned out amazing so it’s all good!

 

Induruwa

Day 4

In the second leg of our honeymoon we travelled to Induruwa, a quieter coastal area just a few minutes south of Bentota, its more popular and bustling neighbour. The initial plan was to stay in Bentota, but I didn’t find any hotels there on Tripadvisor that I fancied. But Induruwa turned out to be a pretty good decision because it felt more private.

For two nights we stayed in the Temple Tree Resort & Spa, a beachfront hotel that offered uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and had a humongous tub in every room which would take ages to fill — but was definitely worth the wait. More than enough space to splash around!

Temple Tree Resort & Spa Induruwa, Sri Lanka

The hotel compounds. The entrance was pretty easy to miss if you didn’t pay enough attention.

Temple Tree Resort & Spa Induruwa, Sri Lanka

The hotel lobby.

Temple Tree Resort & Spa Induruwa, Sri Lanka

Our room!

Temple Tree Resort & Spa Induruwa, Sri Lanka

…and my favourite part of the room — the humongous tub, which looks out onto the lawn and the Indian Ocean!

Sri Lanka sunset

Our view for two nights. MasyaAllah.

The first night we were there we did a rejuvenating ayurvedic body massage to prep us for the next two days of sightseeing. By the time it ended we were famished and Pali, our driver, recommended us a good seafood place called Amal Villas. It was amusing to see they had “Singapore Chilli Crab” on the menu, and for fun we ordered it just to see if it would taste the same. It tasted NOTHING like our Singapore chilli crab! It was more like a sweet and sour dish — but still fortunately quite tasty.

Amal Villas Restaurant, Induruwa, Sri Lanka

Our huge crab before it ended up on the dinner table.

Amal Villas Restaurant, Induruwa, Sri Lanka

Faz, together with Pali. Faz and I were literally still covered in oil from head to toe because we couldn’t shower right after our ayurvedic treatment, but was too hungry to wait.

We ended up eating quite a bit because we’d invited Pali to have dinner with us, but he was too shy and only ate a bit before leaving us to ourselves. But it was nice to get to chat with him for a while and find out more about Sri Lanka through a local’s eyes.

Day 5

Our second day in Induruwa saw us visiting Lunuganga, the country home of the late Geoffrey Bawa, a renowned Sri Lankan architect.

As he (Bawa) went on to become Sri Lanka’s and one of Asia’s most prolific and influential architects, the garden at the Lunuganga estate remained his first muse and experimental laboratory for new ideas. He continued to change and experiment with its spaces and structures throughout his life until his final illness in 1998. Left to the Lunuganga Trust on his demise in 2003, the gardens are now open to the public and the buildings on the estate are run as a country house hotel.

Source: www.geoffreybawa.com

In my search for accommodation during the honeymoon, I remember stumbling across a hotel called The Villa Bentota and being wowed because it had such a distinct and unique style. I later discovered it was designed by an architect named Geoffrey Bawa, who had designed a whole repertoire of hotels both in Sri Lanka and internationally. In Sri Lanka, these hotels were the Heritance Kandalama in Dambulla, the Jetwing Lighthouse in Galle, and the Tintagel and Number 11 Colombo Residence in Colombo, just to name a few.

After having designed so many hotels, Lunuganga was interesting to see because Bawa built it for himself, so in a sense it was a true reflection of his personal tastes. He spent his lifetime experimenting with the space — I don’t know about you but I was very curious to see how a place that took 40 years to build up looked like.

Getting there saw us getting lost, stopping several times to ask the locals for directions. We later learnt that every single detail about the 23-hectare Lunuganga was deliberate. It was inaccessible because Bawa had intended it — he treasured his privacy very much.

We finally arrived at this huge iron gate with nothing but an old bronze bell as form of communication which seemed to lead into a forest, no buildings in sight. Did we arrive at the right place? Surely this couldn’t be the main entrance? We rang the bell and waited. Five minutes passed. I thought maybe the place was closed and had begun to feel a little disappointed, but lo and behold suddenly a young man came running from the inside to let us in. Trip not wasted afterall!

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Waiting for any signs of life to appear after ringing the bell….

Going into the premises we realised why it took the man five minutes — it was a bit of a walk in but I didn’t mind. I was already enjoying Lunuganga and its many visual stimulants: giant trees hundreds of years old, flora of different species — and when we finally got to the houses, they were old and rustic on the outside but bursting with character on the inside.

We weren’t allowed inside these houses, which now serve as hotel rooms, but they had windows for us to peer through. In terms of accommodation, Lunuganga is probably not the place for you if you cannot live without all the mod cons. There are no swimming pools, no TVs, and probably no wi-fi. What you do get, but which is priceless these days, is a sense of immense serenity and still-standing time.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

The Entrance Court, the start point of our Lunuganga tour.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

The place is rustic but the details are amazing!

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Waiting for our guide to take us around.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Geoffrey Bawa’s gorgeous study. He was obsessed with checks, and I love that it lends such a bold yet refreshing contrast against the traditional-looking furniture in the room!

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

More checks! This was one of the hotel rooms, which we shot through the window.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

We were told this Water Garden was Bawa’s favourite view in the evening.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

One of the many pretty water lilies in the pond.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

You’ll find Lunuganga littered with frangipani trees — frangipani was Bawa’s favourite flower.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Pong pong — the forbidden poisonous fruit we all learnt about in primary school. I think this was the first time I’ve ever seen it in person!

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Guess what, even more checks! That’s the Dedduwa lake in the background.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Cinnamon trees were also planted in the compound. Did you know the entire tree smells of cinnamon –the bark, the leaves and all?

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

I love how ethereal the branches look! The whole time I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland or something.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

An interesting plant the blue fern is. It only looks blue when the sunlight hits it.

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

What did I say about feeling like Alice in Wonderland? I felt like I’d just come out of some secret passage in the forest!

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Have I told you I have a fondness for old, weathered doors? I feel like they have so much character. And how unexpectedly bold is the choice of colours in such a rustic setting? Love it!

Lunuganga, Sri Lanka

Bawa’s favourite frangipani tree, which was also the largest one in Lunuganga. This one was weighted to achieve that low, spreaded-out effect. You could come here to the Western Terrace to have a meal and enjoy the majestic view.

As a layperson I’d say Lunuganga is an amalgamation of traditional and modern, eclectically peppered with all of Bawa’s favourite things, making a style that is uniquely his.

Lunuganga was beautiful and I enjoyed it tremendously. I wasn’t sure at first if Faz would appreciate this sort of attraction — I still probably enjoyed it more than him — but thank god he turned out to be quite an easygoing travelling companion!

Coming up in my next post — our visit to Galle Fort, a 426-year-old historical monument and UNESCO world heritage site that was originally built by the Portugese but was subsequently taken over by the Dutch and then the British, and then to Colombo for a taste of Sri Lankan city life!


2 Comments on “A Decade of Love: Our Amazing Sri Lankan Honeymoon (Part 2a): Induruwa, Galle, Colombo)”

  1. rafidah says:

    oh man that tub in induruwa…I want!


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