It should be warned that a very small number of visitors to Ireland will be suited to the experience of Victoria’s Way Indian Sculpture Park.
Described by Slate magazine as a “sculpture garden designed to change your life,” this is a very special kind of Irish pilgrimage site, specifically suited to those who need to take time out while they figure out which road to take in life and how best to achieve their goals.
Privately owned by German-born Victor Langheld, the 22-acre park in Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, features sometimes dark and troubling pieces of art cast in black granite and bronze, designed by Langheld himself before being commissioned to sculptors in India.
Ranging in height from 5.5 feet to a towering 15 feet, the pieces are designed to set visitors on a path of reflection and questioning that will draw the tools from inside themselves to decide on their purpose in life.
This is not a family day-trip to have a wander around the county known as the Garden of Ireland. It’s an intense adult-only exploration of self that Langheld believes is designed for only one in a million Irish people.
“Victor’s Way was designed as a contemplative space for the wanderer (of any social or educational background) aged somewhere between 28 and 65, ± 10 and who needs to take some quality time out because he/she has arrived at a crossroad,” he writes.
“Unsure as to how to proceed, hence undecided (therefore incomplete, therefore unhappy), the wanderer needs to revert to, meaning to dig deep to recover his or her basic survival protocol.”
Outdoor clothes are and watertight shoes are advised for this experience, as are traveling the path alone and leaving your cellphone in the car. Only open during the summer months, Victoria’s Way was not created as a tourism enterprise but does ask for €5 to cover costs of maintaining the grounds. You’ll often find the passionate owner immersing himself in his own creation (or forest-bathing as he refers to it) and meeting with his visiting wanderers.
What can you expect from Victoria's Way sculptures?
The 14 pieces crafted over 20 years are unlike anything you will see in the rest of Ireland.
Inspired by Langheld’s own spiritual journeys to sites across Asia before settling in Ireland, they are draw upon eastern culture and are intended to represent the spiritual progression to enlightenment.
The journey strikes hard from the start with an eerie gateway designed as a vagina dentata guarded by a stone snake.
From here, you will meet with a further seven sculptures intended to bring you through the pain and confusion of losing your purpose in live, forcing you to think about the crossroads your life has reached and resulting in a final decision drawn out of your own sub-conscious about the direction your life should take.
The sculptures include “The Split Man,” an image of a young man literally carving himself in two, intended to represent the self-destruction caused by the procrastination or failure to find your intended route and happiness.
Others include a giant finger sticking up from the ground with "Create or Die" painted on the fingernail, and a sculpture of a child being born from a giant, rotting human fist.
The elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh is also depicted in several forms, dancing, reading, reclining, and playing musical instruments.
Describing Victoria’s Way as “an extreme spiritual adventure park” Langheld says it is “suitable for wholly dedicated and death defying spiritual gymnasts, complete with philosophical abseiling, metaphysical white knuckle rides and darkest psychic and somatic potholing.”
If you’ve reached a life crisis, this is the place for you. If not, venture to many of the other amazing sites in Co. Wicklow and leave this one to the wanderers.