Though Koggala is a coastal town with its own gorgeous and reef-protected beach, it is probably best known for its ecologically diverse lagoon and lake. With a surface area of over 7 square kilometres, and a water depth ranging from 1 to 3.7 metres, the rain-fed Koggala Lagoon is paddle boarding paradise. The lagoon is littered with eight ecologically rich islets – one of which (the famous Madol Doowa) is the subject of a popular Sri Lankan novel bearing its name. The author, Martin Wickramasinghe, a pioneering literary giant, was born in Koggala in 1890. Known for its rich biodiversity and its lush mangrove swamps, Koggala attracts ecologically conscious travellers from around the world. At least ten species of mangrove found here are endemic to Sri Lanka. Seven of the eight islands can be reached by boat or kayak. About five kilometres from the town is a unique place of worship: the Katuluva Purvarama Viharaya which dates back to the 13th century. What makes this temple unique are the images of various European figures – including Queen Victoria herself – found among the mostly Kandyan-style frescos adorning its walls.