About Kandy National Museum
The Kandy National Museum is a museum of the history of the city of Kandy, particularly as it relates to the Kandyan period, between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. It is housed in what was the Palle Vahala – home of the country’s queens (and concubines) – during the reign of Sri Wickrama Rajasingha (1780-1832).
Today, the Kandy National Museum displays an array of historical objects – over five thousand in all – right up to the 1815 document that transferred power to the British.
Kandy National Museum history
This former palace was established during the time of the last monarchy on the Island and was built according to the architectural features of Kandy period. The Palle Vahala building houses the primary exhibits and the main palace building houses a secondary exhibition. Apart from the captivating exhibits, one can also admire the unique architectural features of the Kandy period at this museum.
The building was used as a depository for historical artefacts made by the Kandy Art Association which was established in 1882 and artisans of Matale. The museum was opened to the public in 1942 and is located beside the temple of the sacred tooth which is a popular pilgrimage site.
The city of Kandy is a UNESCO world heritage site and was the last capital of the Sinhala kings whose patronage enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lank by the British in 1815.
The museum was declared a national museum in 1942 and exhibits a variety of royal relics and other historical artefacts.
Kandy National Museum today
Today the museum has over 5,000 items on display, including weapons, jewellery, tools, objects from the Kandian era between the 17th and 19th centuries and post British Colonial era. One such item is a copy of the 1815 agreement that signed the Kandyan provinces over to the British, known as “Kandyan Convention” or “Udarata Giwisuma.” Another highlight is a replica of the golden crown used by the Kandyan King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha.
In the grounds of the museum is a statue of Sir Henry War, a former Governor of Ceylon (1855-1860). It can be helpful to visit the museum with a guide.
Getting to Kandy National Museum
The National Museum Kandy is situated next to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. It is a part of the Royal Palace of the King, the “Palle Vahala” or “Lower Palace.”