The smell of the Sappu flower (Champak) is the first to greet you at the door. A fresh towel to wipe your face, and a refreshing wood apple juice later, you’re led to a comfortable bedroom. Sometimes an escape from the city’s hustle and into the surroundings of nature seems inviting. It’s a thirty minute [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Blissful getaway in Kandy

Joshua Surendraraj shares his experience with nature at Villa Mahakanda

Pix by- Vnnie De Silva

The smell of the Sappu flower (Champak) is the first to greet you at the door. A fresh towel to wipe your face, and a refreshing wood apple juice later, you’re led to a comfortable bedroom. Sometimes an escape from the city’s hustle and into the surroundings of nature seems inviting.

It’s a thirty minute drive from the city of Kandy (minus the traffic), past the University of Peradeniya, and on to the Mahakanda Road. Located on a one acre plot of land, atop a hill is Villa Mahakanda, this luxurious getaway is the ideal location for the one seeking serenity in the outskirts of the city.

The gates open into a picturesque garden, surrounded by Sappu, Na and Cotton trees. The entrance lobby is decorated with antique furniture and a few Kandyan artifacts. Right next to it is a large restaurant which opens up into the ‘Ananthaya Terrace,’ which is a dining/relaxation area that would be an avid reader’s paradise. It overlooks a majestic rear view of the Hanthana Mountain range, to which the Mahakanda Estate is part of.

On the left side of the structure lies a rocky slope, on which part of the house is built on. A flight of stairs down into the lower part of the property, and one is immediately hit by the coolness, stored within the rocky wall that surrounds the hallway.

The rough finished walls and the perfectly finished rock floors, open into a beautiful lounge area. On one end of the room, sits a spring, surrounded by tropical plants.  The excess water from it flows alongside the corridor and streams down into the terrace below.

Chula Senewiratna, the owner, explains, when the construction was underway, almost 35 years ago, a spring had come up, atop the hill. The villa which was originally designed by Architect Nihal Amarsinghe, was then redesigned to fit it all in, which included ideas given by renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa and artist Laki Senanayake, who were friends of Mr.Senewiratna’s late father. Today the water flows right through the house and under it.

Just in front of the spring, the villa opens into a living room areacalled Nidahas (Relaxed) Lounge. This further opens up to a Puwath (News) Lounge, where one could find a day bed and two cupboards, stocked with books ranging from fiction, non-fiction and Sri Lankan historyetc. A Sangithaya (Music) lounge, sits in a corner, equipped with old records and a 200 year old upright piano, still in tune. The floor of this entire area is laid with hand cut granite/stone.

Mr. Senewiratna explains, back in the day, at the time of construction, the masons didn’t have any mechanical grinders, they had therefore resorted to the traditional method of grinding and polishing stone using sand. Indeed this bit of information portrayed the hard work that had gone into the seamless rock finishes.

Stepping out of the Lounge area, you find a long outer veranda decked with several concrete benches, while stone arches that hold up the upper floor, portrayed the work of a perfectionist, stone mason.

The terrace below was also built upon solid rock walls. “Sakka Bamma”, Mr. Senewiratna called it, explaining that the walls were fitted together with rock and clay, as opposed to concrete.

In a fast developing hospitality industry, the property offers a unique experience to those seeking peace and inspiration.

We walk through the garden surrounded by jasmine and several other colourful flowers. “The two boundaries of the land are two waterways, which flow during the rainy seasons,” he says. The wildlife in the area, include, wild boar, deer, rabbits and porcupines. According to Mr. Senewiratna, deer can be spotted towards dawn, while the wild boars come out at night.

The villa contains five double rooms and a triple room in total. All furnished with modern facilities such as air-conditioning, hot and cold water, free Wi-Fi, PEO TV, bathrobes, bed slippers, an electrical kettle (stocked with tea, coffee and sugar), a safety locker and a mini fridge. Laundry, an iron and a shuttle service to the city are also available on request.

Villa Mahakanda also offers fine dining at their Henduwa Restaurant, which could comfortably seat around 20 guests. Their menu offers more western cuisines, aside from authentic Sri Lankan food. They don’t offer buffets; rather it’s all four course meals, all of which offer an exciting dining experience.

The song of a Salalihiniya echoed in the morning. Aside from this and the sound of a passing bus, silence takes over. Amidst the clearing mist, one could spot Adams Peak (Sri pada) in the distance.

Breakfast was served with a generous portion of Kiribath (Milk Rice), Lunu miris (onion sambol) and a fish curry. A refreshing cup of authentic Sri Lankan coffee followed after.

“The villa was originally meant to be a holiday home for my parents, Luckshman Senewiratna and Indra Ratwatte,” he tells us. As the years passed, he and his wife Inoka Senewiratna decided to do something about the property. They started off with the basic renovations, and soon got Mr. Ranjan Mathews, a landscapistand architects Surindu and Shevy Basnayake involved.

Operations were commenced in October, last year (2016). “We’re in the infancy in the operations itself and so far we’ve had very good reviews,” he says. The Hindagala Rajamaha Viharaya, the Peradeniya University, the Peradeniya botanical gardens (located within five kilometres approx.) and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha (11 kilometres) are among some of the popular attractions in the vicinity.

“Our vision is to someday, be a boutique hotel that provides proper facilities like a butler service etc. basically a heaven on earth. We want to be on par with any boutique hotels in the region.” Mr. Senewiratna says.

Villa Mahakanda is the result of brilliant architecture, design and planning built on the foundation of love, peace and good old Sri Lankan family values, the ultimate home away from home.


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