As jarring as ‘regeneration’ may sound, that’s exactly what Architect Amila did so flawlessly when he was sought to build a boutique hotel in the cool climes of Kitulgala right on the edge of a rainforest.
Moksha is a hotel built for repose and more than a bit of life embedded in nature. While it offers all the creature comforts of a star hotel in its interior, its exterior structure, and ambiance blends themselves seamlessly into the natural landscape it’s built into. The name, derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “to be free,” is an apt descriptor, upon which the concept of the hotel is built. Holistically, the hotel provides luxury comfort, while lending the guest the opportunity to stay attuned to the subtle nuances of nature: of flowing water in the nearby creek, of crickets deep in the jungle, and of cool breeze that sweeps the forest.
It has taken nearly a year to prepare the land for construction, as it has been full of boulders that one always meets in the woodlands and near-natural waterways. Set in the innermost edge of the private woodland, the guest is offered the soothing experience of driving through verdant yards of the forest to arrive at the premises. The rectangular building is placed in parallel to the natural stream that flows right next to the property, Liyan Oya, and the edge of the deep woods on the other side. Surprisingly, or perhaps wondrously, the angularity of the structure does not jut out as an anomaly in the landscape. The parallel placement allows the boutique hotel to blend into the landscape as if it were the most natural phenomenon to have a man-made structure within the jungle.
The colors help. Earthy tones that the architect has chosen for the exterior and the semi-external furniture complement the woodland, with their deep browns, brick reds, and burnt yellows. Even the modern pool is laid with green tiles, as a safety precaution, for the pool is used both during day and night, serving the additional purpose of blending into the natural landscape.
Lighting is a thing of beauty in itself. While the common spaces like the bar and restaurant feature white light in metal shades that are mysteriously similar to rattan, the stairwells, and lounges feature brilliant chandeliers pouring in a mix of white and yellow light. However, as the day dawns, pure sunlight streams into the building, as all the open areas and the 8 rooms are set facing the east. One can dine paying homage to the natural light that filters in through the leafy greens, whilst looking upon the misty mountains in the distance. One can also throw their windows in the private rooms open to refreshingly unpolluted air and sunlight and enjoy a quiet moment with nature.
The visitor who drives the last leg of a long journey is met with greenery first and then is greeted by the spectacular sculpture of an Eagle welcoming them. The eagle, symbolic of freedom and wise perseverance, gives the first glimpse of the stay experience at Moksha, Kitulgala. As the guest arrives at the lobby, they are offered the comfortable contrast of a wide area to relax and stretch themselves after being cooped in a small space. The lobby features an eagle in flight.
Restoring the guests’ wellbeing is a task that this hotel experience takes upon itself, for much is done to make the guest comfortable. While the natural surroundings are a literal breath of fresh air and change of environment for the weary traveler, the rooms are designed in such a way that allows all the creature comforts of a star class hotel, the only difference being the gurgling sound of the natural stream, the sound wildlife living, and breathing, that become a soothing, beautiful background score to the experience at Moksha.