A small town on Sri Lanka‘s South Coast, Koggala has a beautiful stretch of beach overlooking the sweep of a bay.
Quiet and un-crowded, this is a perfect place to just relax and enjoy the sun and the sea. For the nature lovers however, the Koggala River and the Lake offer excursions to explore the mangrove swamps; and the fauna and flora of the area, or visit the Turtle Hatchery nearby. To get a glimpse of life in Koggala, go on a catamaran boat on the lake, explore the village and the surrounding areas on a tuk-tuk or bicycle. For heritage enthusiasts, a visit to the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum is a must.
The Turtle Hatchery was established in 1996 with the aim of promoting responsible tourism. Most species of sea turtles are on the conservation list and require help as their population would have continued to dwindle unless measures were taken to educate and inform the locals. The Turtle Hatchery educates the local community and discourages them from digging up turtle eggs and selling them for the purpose of food or poaching. In fact the Turtle Hatchery aid conservation by buying turtle eggs from the locals so that they do not lose out on their livelihood and then nurture the baby turtles until they are ready to be returned to the ocean. Locals are informed and are brought to understand the value and beauty these graceful creatures add to our already blessed island. Just watching these majestic creatures of the sea is a truly life changing experience and you will undoubtedly see for yourself why we need to protect them from becoming extinct. You may even be able to release some of the baby turtles back into the ocean.
The Koggala Lake is alive with the wonders of nature. A boat ride is the best way to soak up the splendours of the Koggala Lake which is teaming with bird life amidst the unspoilt mangroves and small rocky outcrops. Visitors will also be able to see a variety of water plants including the lotus and water lily, both of which play an important role in Sri Lankan culture and local Ayurveda medicine. Visitors are also likely to see creatures such as water monitors, the endemic purple-faced leaf monkey and even a variety of butterflies in the area surrounding the Koggala Lake. The lake is dotted with islands. One particular island is home to a Buddhist temple to which many locals visit especially on full moon Poya days. Another island has a cinnamon plantation which makes for an interesting visit. Visitors will also see the sea mango which local residents use to create traditional masks as the wood from this tree is particularly soft making it ideal for carving. Nature lovers are sure to find a journey on the Koggala Lake a truly rewarding experience, while even visitors who are not as partial to nature are sure to enjoy the scenic beauty and quiet solitude of this unspoilt lagoon area with its lush vegetation.
Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum
Martin Wickramasinghe was a highly acclaimed author who wrote a number of Sinhala classics, most of which have been translated into several other languages so that even more people can enjoy them. He hailed from the Koggala area and readers of his work will be able to identify with many of the localities featured in his timeless novels. The Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum showcases some of Sri Lanka’s cultural traditions and also helps visitors to learn more about local customs. Martin Wickramasinge’s ancestral home has been converted into the folk museum and the surrounding gardens contain a restored ecosystem filled with hundreds of indigenous trees and shrubs which in turn attract an array of birds. Thus just visiting the house and its surroundings help conjure up images of the Koggala depicted in Wickramasinghe’s writing.
The Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum reminds Sri Lankans of their roots and also helps visitors gain insight to the various customs and traditions through a myriad of displays, both from ancient and modern times. Examples of rural technology, agro industry, fishing, pottery and metal crafts, as well as a variety of items pertaining to folk dances and religious ceremonies are presented for visitors to peruse at their leisure. A visit to this location is sure to help travellers understand this heritage rich island a little better and it is highly recommended.