Venturing to Batticaloa is a delightful experience because you feel
you’ve stepped into another world when you take the trip on the longest
bridge in Sri Lanka, the Kallady Lady Manning Bridge. Passing from
Kallady to Arasay, the bridge overlooks the Kallady lagoon that reveals
plenty of flora and fauna in sheer splendour.
On a beautiful morning just as the sun rises, make sure you ask one
of the fishermen from the lagoon to take you on a ride. Gentle ripples
along the waves of the Kallady lagoon is breathtaking as the fisherfolk
who act as tour guides enlighten us on the wealth of wildlife that makes
this precious paradise one of the wonders in Sri Lanka.
Suddenly, we see jumping fish that pop in and out of the water’s
surface quickly and in groups as if they are trying to escape us. The
fishermen who took us on their fishing boats said that there were indeed
crocodiles lurking along the shores of the lagoon waiting for their
prey. Looking at our worried faces, they assured us, “Don’t worry they
are rather friendly, just as long as you don’t trouble them.”
Batticaloa is truly a hidden gem, with a rather different beauty to
the rest of Sri Lanka and the trip is well worthwhile. Batticaloa with
its interesting people, friendly faces live in harmony.
The people are also very talented and hearing them sing is beautiful.
Says drama expert Vanni, “Hearing the sound of singing fish is a
wonderful experience and it reveals the fun aspect to Batticaloa”. So
much so that the music of the singing fish on a full moon day was
recorded by a priest named Father Lang who broadcast the delightful
melodies in the 1960s over the SLBC (Sri Lanka Broadcasting
Our fishing guide Rajan said, “We wait until it is well into the
night and then keep quiet. After some time, we light the kerosene
lantern and the prawns are attracted to it. Holding the fishing nets
properly, we catch the prawns and then we have a great nightly feast fit
for a king.”
The Batticaloa Lagoon is a huge estuarine lagoon that is fed by a
number of small rivers. It is linked to the sea by two narrow channels,
one at Batticaloa and the other at Periyakallar. During the dry season
these channels are blocked by sand bars.
The lagoon is surrounded magnificently by several villages and the
area is vital for cultivating rice in jigsaw-shaped paddy fields, creamy
coconut and other cash crops. This bountiful land that has now tasted
the successes of peace is desirable for its fine freshwater fish where
prawn and shrimp farming is done.
The lagoon has extensive mangrove swamps and some sea grass beds that
attract a wide variety of water and land birds. Many of them are herons
and comarants who dry their feathers on the little rocks of the
lagoon.The Kallady Lady Manning bridge is a magical place and a journey
there is bound to take your breath away!
Pix: Manikya Kodihuwakku