Brief Garden – Kirantidiya, Sri Lanka - Atlas Obscura

Brief Garden

Kirantidiya, Sri Lanka

This luscious masterpiece created by landscape designer Bevis Bawa inspired the work of his brother, a famous Sri Lankan architect. 


Plants spill down the sides of the house, blanketing it in a layer of lush greenery. Stems sprout from sculpted pots, while elsewhere pink flowers erupt into a dazzling, colorful display. It’s an enchanting place, one where its creator’s personality and love for the landscape come alive.

Brief Garden is the masterpiece of Bevis Bawa, brother of the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Bevis, the elder Bawa brother, began crafting this luscious landscape roughly 20 years before Geoffrey commenced work on his world-famous Lunuganga Estate.

Bevis created the garden by spending decades transforming the rubber plantation he inherited into the verdant jungle-esque gem it is today. He began cultivating the space in the late 1920s while serving in the army and continued up until he died at age 89 in 1992.

Thankfully, the estate is still maintained and open to the public. It errs on the wild side for a garden, with tangles of vines creeping down the walls of the buildings. It has an intimate atmosphere, making you feel as though you’ve left the town behind and stepped into your own secluded slice of the jungle. Narrow paths wind through tropical plants, revealing a pool, patio, and staircase. Archways cloaked in greenery lead to hidden statues like carved faces and a stoic horse tucked among the flora.

The house, too, is worth a peek. The art within it and the garden reflect Bevis’ personality and life. Homoerotic sculptures dot the space, and a stunning mural depicting Sri Lankan life adorns one of the walls.

Know Before You Go

If you’re in Colombo, you can easily arrive at the Brief Garden within two hours' drive. One has to buy a ticket to get in, but it’s nothing too expensive, and the tour lasts about an hour and a half and is definitely an experience you won’t soon forget.

The antique sculptures are prohibited from being interacted with so children should always be accompanied by adults. One should also dress light since the weather is fairly tropical, and carry an umbrella since rain is also quite common.

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