From Chaitraratha to Lunuganga

My son clambered up on my lap as we launched into the episode where Kubera, the Treasurer to the Gods, invites young Ganesha to a feast. An early reference to Kubera’s greatness is in the description of his wonderful garden, the magical, Chaitraratha.

Gardens are an interesting, repeating motif in mythology & legend. Remember the Garden of Eden, where man got knowledge & was banished to earth? To me, nothing so demonstrates man’s supposedly evolutionary superiority as his creation of gardens. And as I wander the world, I keep a definite eye out for them.

A garden I have always wanted to see but have not yet managed to is ‘Lunuganga‘, a tropical garden created by the Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Bawa was an interesting character. After reading English at Cambridge & Law in London, he went on to a career at the Bar in Sri Lanka. Then at the age of 38 he shifted gears to become an architect. Lunuganga, the garden Bawa created outside Colombo, started out as a rubber estate, which he lovingly and meticulously worked on for over 50 years, turning it into a world- renowned tropical paradise. What a fascinating enterprise that must have been.

A favourite fantasy of mine is to create a flowing garden on a large tract of land atop a barren hill overlooking the sea. I can see it clearly. The weather is neither hot nor cold, but of course, is humid. I am sure I will recognise the place when I see it. My suspicion is that it is in one of the islands of Indonesia – possibly even a remote corner of Bali. Or maybe it is a little atoll in the Pacific. The search goes on.

(A view of Lunuganga : photo from reddottours)

lunuganga.jpg

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3 thoughts on “From Chaitraratha to Lunuganga

  1. Great post. I was recently reading some of the British officers’ great love for gardens. James Kirkpartrick who was the British Resident in the court of the Nizams in the 18th century created a large pleasure garden and took great pains in importing plants and birds from distant England and from parts of India (which was a huge thing in those times). He has left behind letters for help with specialist gardeners in great detail on how he wanted his garden to develop. It was all very fascinating.

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