Named after the British Engineer Rutherford, who renovated the reservoir during the colonial times, the name Rutherford had shortened to Rufus, one of the favourite names in ancient Rome.
The river Kanchikudichcharu too has its connection to the King Dutugamunu’s feasts of war and is believed to have provided water to make porridge for the Sinhalese army on their way to oust the invading Tamil King Elara.
The eastern half of the lake is nestled in a picturesque rocky landscape in the west on the open part of the water area adjacent flat grassland, popular with the Twilight wildlife, including elephants, to sift through the banks emerging from the sprawling Kanchikudai jungle that begins here. The Rufus Kulam therefore offers one of the best opportunities to get close to the elephants.
Another common sight is the sun bathing crocodiles of Rufus Kulam who splashes away at approach although they are famed to furious hunters in water.
The Tamil community living around the reservoir are dependent on the reservoir for fishing while they are glad to give the tourists a ride on their flimsy traditional canoes, a rare feast of sight during the dusk and dawn.