On the surface, the Pottuvil Kottukal lagoon may seem like yet another vast expanse of water with fisherman dotted around it in the early morning and late afternoon. However this floating world is fascinating with its sporadic atolls of vegetation, the sides replete with mangrove roots rising above the porridge of black mud like angry spiders curled on their haunches, allowing rafts to moor, as the mottled tail of a gargantuan monitor lizard swishes by in a flurry of activity.
Paddling along with only a wooden oar, one does feel the eyes of spying lagoon crocodiles sleeping with one eye half open on the banks that one is now part of the waiting game for the hunter and the hunted begins in this frozen world where only the hues of the sky change. Your fishermen guide organised by the hotel will point out the varying vegetation, always with half an eye on the mangrove swamp crocodiles and we stop to have another go at throwing a net across the water and fail to niftly haul it back in with one arm’s length at a time, and entertain the water buffaloes with our efforts munching away on the grass as the white bellied eagle takes flight.
Close to areas that were once ravaged by the echoes of the deadly civil war that raged for nearly three decades, Pottuvil’s lagoon is an oasis of resplendency. Scientists have noted that in small sized irregular shaped lagoons like this one high non extractive use values are aplenty because of the winding canals, extraordinary rock formations and thick mangroves providing for if well marketed lucrative recreational entertainment activities and the marine resource therefore in its entirety does not need to be plundered. The sand bars lead to the Pottuvil Point, a favourite spot of pro surfers. Apart from the occasional thirsty elephant that can be seen at the lagoon at dusk, the area’s bird life is abundant, and can be found along with some fascinating insects mostly hidden or well camouflaged in the impenetrable terrain of inward lands in the mangroves. It is interesting to note that local fishermen wade knee deep into the water with their sarongs hiked up to the waist and tucked near the groin region, catching the prawns in KBH curries. They take only handfuls at a time back to the land and placing the catch in a hole dug in the sand before repeating the process over and over again without the blink of an eye.
The Muhudu Maha Viharaya where Queen Viharamaha Devi of lore was washed up is close by covered in sand dunes, and buried in here are remnants of architectural feats of immense practicality and aplomb. Including local pilgrims say with awe a boat and the Queens jewellery, which she kept there while she bathed in these waters with sandalwood the secret to eternal beauty.