Koggala lies in the middle of one of the longest beaches in Sri Lanka, while on the landside is Koggala Lake, an oasis of lagoons, islands and mangroves.
This major aquatic attraction is not only a favourite among bird watchers, but is also the source of many of the freshwater crabs and prawns served in the region’s many hotels and restaurants.
Further inland are the beautiful surroundings of Sri Lanka’s southern hinterlands, including Buddhist temples and other cultural landmarks, as well as cinnamon plantations dating back hundreds of years.
But it is the beach that is the increasingly attractive magnet for foreign and domestic tourists alike, with its variety of water-sport activities and a prominent coral reef for scuba and snorkel divers.
Here you can also observe the stilt fishermen, who perch on single poles in the shallows just off-shore and use bamboo fishing rods cast lines beyond the surf to catch small fish.
Koggala is also the birthplace of noted Sri Lankan author Martin Wickramasinghe and there is a museum, Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum, dedicated to his arts and popular traditions in the town.
It’s brochure notes that “Martin Wickramasinghe delved into the life and culture of our people from their early beginning to the present day and through his writings … moulded our collective identity and values as a people.”
Some of those early beginning can be seen a short distance east of Koggala at the Kataluva Purvarama Maha Viharaya temple, which is renowned for its Kandyan-style paintings in the main shrine.
These include cameos of Queen Victoria, painted to mark the fact that she guaranteed the free practice of Buddhism outlined in the Kandyan capitulation of Lanka in 1815.
Koggala is a small coastal town, situated at the edge of a lagoon on the south coast of Sri Lanka, located in Galle District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council.
Koggala is bounded on one side by a reef, and on the other by a large lake, Koggala Lake, into which the numerous tributaries of the Koggala Oya drain.
It is approximately 139 kilometres (86 mi) south of Colombo and is situated at an elevation of 3 metres (9.8 ft) above the sea level.
Koggala has one of the longest beaches in Sri Lanka, and is located in close proximity to the popular tourist resort of Unawatuna, Koggala in comparison is relatively uncluttered as a tourist destination and mostly unexplored.
Koggala was significantly affected by the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, where the waters measured 9.1 metres (30 ft) high.
It is the birthplace of noted Sri Lankan author Martin Wickramasinghe and there is a museum, Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum, dedicated to his arts and popular traditions in the town.
In providing the backdrop and context to the museum, a Trust brochure states that “Martin Wickramasinghe delved into the life and culture of our people from their early beginning to the present day and through his writings, he identified our folk culture as a resilient bonding substance which has not only prevented our social disintegration and alienation, despite assimilation of elements from a multitude of eastern and western cultures, but also moulded our collective identity and values as a people. Wickramasinghe’s unceasing intellectual exploration and his creative and critical writings relating to the life and culture of the people of Sri Lanka continued for a period of over 70 years”.
Approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of Koggala is the Kataluva Purvarama Maha Viharaya temple, which was originally built in the 13th century and has some late 19th century additions.
The temple is renowned for its Kandyan-style paintings in the main shrine, dating from the late 19th century.
The paintings of musicians, dancers and European figures illustrates an interesting piece of social history. Some of the Jatake tales (episodes from the Buddha's series of 550 previous lives) are painted here, and purportedly are 200 years old.
There are also some cameo-style paintings of Queen Victoria and the Queen Mother, done in gratitude of Queen Victoria's role in ensuring the free practice of Buddhism outlined in the Kandyan capitulation of Lanka in 1815.
Koggala is also the home to the Giniwella Kathaluwa and the ancient Temples. The Kathaluwa Buddhist temple is known for its murals and for the preserved first printing press, brought by the Dutch to Sri Lanka.
The area is also famous for its distinct stilt fishermen, who erect a single pole in the chest-deep water on the beach, just few meters off-shore, where they perch on a cross bar and using bamboo fishing rods cast their lines out beyond the surf break to catch small fish.