Sri Lanka’s reservoir building technology was at its peak during the mid Anuradhapura Kingdom era to Polonnaruwa Kingdom Era (1017-1236) and most of the largest reservoirs in the country were built during this period. The Parakrama Samudraya, is the largest, constructed with a 14 kilometer dam encompassing 5 reservoirs within it was built by King Parakramabahu the Great during the 12th century. But some other gigantic tanks such as Minnerya Wewa and Kaudulla Wewa are some of the earlier work belongs to early as 3rd Century. Though not as large as the giants, Kanthale Wewa lies on the way to Trincomalee and has been not short of attention from the colonial times.Kantale was known as Ganthalawa since the days of the kings. Tamils used to write and pronounce it as Kathalai due the lack of letters and sounds in the Tamil language.
When the government was attempting to re colonize Gantalawa in the early 1950’s, a team of early settlers had build a campsite inside the jungles had only a small path from the main road to reach their camp. A team leader from that group had put up a small board at the top of this path with the name of “Ganthalawa Camp Road”. A Tamil politician called Wanniyasingam who was a MP representing Vavuniya District has seen this piece of board and has insisted that this name board should be removed and the transliterated Tamil name Kantale should be used in the parliament in 1952.02.28 according the Hansard Records. With no one standing against this, the name board was requested to be removed immediately by the government and acted as a prelude to Ganthalawa officially being called Kantale.