A magical hideaway deep in Sri Lanka
|By Dilshan Senaratne|
|Ruskin Island is possibly one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets, hidden away in plain sight, bordered by the sedentary waters of the Bolgoda Lake. Crossing the lake which happens to be the largest of its kind in the country is the only mode of access to the island, granting much to its tranquil atmosphere. A short ferry ride off Panadura is the most popular route to the island, trailing off into a beaten track of emerald tapestry and clay soil.
The island itself is largely unchartered contrary to the properties scattered throughout the vicinity and very little human presence is felt even during the light of day. By night the island is an affair of solitude and pitch darkness where silence is the only notation in concert. The trail winds relentlessly, clearing when come upon a villa, resort or bungalow, and embracing the forestry again immediately past one.
The Stuff of Legends
Prince Reevidev who resided in the Bolgoda area during the reign of King Parakramabahu II is said to have been a voyeur who spied on the women bathing in the lake. The granite bench which offered him vantage is remnant to this day and surfaces when the water level of the lake is low.
Prince Reevidv’s legend is only one in many, including the Angulu Eliya Devale which never goes under the water even when the lake brims at its peak and the rumored sighting of a large rainbow-finned fish said to be dwelling in the lake.
Villa 14 is come upon at the heart of the island in an isolated clearing, a lake-front property with a solid granite exterior giving the structure the look and feel of a fort. The architectural feat achieved by Villa 14 merges nature with the sophistication of a contemporary boutique accommodation unit. An open-house minimalistic design opens the property to the lake on one end and a cozy courtyard on the other, contrasting the granite finish with the soft greenery of the backyard and lake-front.
At first glance the most impressive quality of the property is the clear view happened upon from the lobby area which doubles up as a dining room. From any of the couch seats or dining tables; swimming pool, backyard and lake with the forest beyond fall in one line of sight, creating a hypnotic scene which begs to be breathed in.
Two splendid lake-view double bedrooms rival each other to no avail with an unobstructed vantage point of the lake and forestry. A special highlight is the placement of the bed to present the same view, truly a lulling sedative for mind and spirit.
The service as in the case of many boutique properties is personalized to a highly impressive level with food served according to the guest’s preference completely. The extent to which a tailored dining system operates at Villa 14 is made clear when the chef announces that nothing in the way of a menu exists and anything will be prepared as required, given reasonable notice.
Written in History
Bolgoda Lake was the preferred route of transport for people and commodities from Kalu Ganga during Dutch rule. Logs from Sinharaja Forest were also transported along this route to the wood mills in Moratuwa. Consequently the island was a popular resting ground for ferrymen.
The British were probably the first to recognize the potential held by the island with its rich diversity of fauna, having used the island as a prime bird hunting ground. Ruskin Island also doubled up as a recreational spot for British officers and adventurers stationed in Colombo.
The simple structures and open spaces place much emphasis on the natural charms of the property, bringing to light the many enthralling sceneries on offer at the location. Favourites among places in the villa to catch sight of the lake and its many endearments include the comfort of the bedrooms as well as a pier which leads to a small deck on the lake.
A rich diversity of birds visit the backyard of the property and a mongoose along with an iguana are also frequent visitors. Many aquatic sports are facilitated in the lake and include jet-skiing, angling and rowing. Early mornings are bustling with activity when the birds herald the visit of flower pluckers in their boats.
Villa 14 offers much in the way of luxury accommodation and friendly service, positioning the property as a top holiday destination as well as the perfect getaway from the bustles of daily life. Given that only two entry points to the island exist, privacy is a guarantee more than a promise and relaxation is assured.
The fabled Ruskin Island is a rich experience of solitude and oneness with nature and serenity. From the ferry ride upon arrival till the conclusion of your visit, Ruskin Island provides refuge to those who seek tranquility and privacy. An ideal destination, a paradise within paradise.
Copyright © 2013 Dilshan Senaratne