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Stilt Fishermen of Ahangama

Sri Lanka, often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, is a true paradise island. It is famous for its tropical beaches, the best of which can be found along the country’s south coast. Travelling south from Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, you will arrive at Hikkaduwa. Hotels, bars and eateries dot the beachfront, marking it as a popular spot for holidaymakers who never want to be far from the ocean. Hikkaduwa has also become the venue of the infamous ‘Hikka Fest’, a recurring beach party that happens around midyear. The party continues for five straight days and nights; it includes music, food, competitions and other activities. To experience Sri Lanka’s party beach by night and water sports such as snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing and glass bottom boat rides by day; check into Citrus Hikkaduwa.

Further along the Southern Expressway you will encounter the deep down south of Sri Lanka. Here, the village of Ahangama is home to a small fishing community that is famous for its unique fishing technique. The technique known as stilt fishing is an old tradition still practiced by fishermen today.

The fishermen usually set up their posts at sunrise, noon and sunset in an effort to snap up the best catch. A vertical pole is driven into the sea bed; while a cross bar, known as a ‘petta’ is attached at a midway point. This is used by the fisher folk to perform their incredible balancing act. Each fisherman takes his place and balances about two metres above the crashing waves. The amazing feat is performed with one hand holding the stilt and the other a fishing rod or line. Any fish that are caught are then kept in a plastic bag tied around their waist or to the pole. The catch usually consists of spotted herring and small mackerel.

Uditha Dharmawardhane is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Roland Lefevre. He specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.