The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy is not only surrounded by other temples but also by some more museums. Two of them, the Archaeological Museum and the National Museum, are dedicated to Sinhalese history. They are not at all must-sees for normal holiday makers who only spend one or two nights during a Sri Lanka round tour. Both museums seem to be old-fasioned, not very well sorted, the illumination should be improved. But they are worth a visit for those who have time enough to study Kandy in some more detail.
Kandy’s Archaeological Museum is housed in the last remaining wing of the former royal palace. This is why it’s also called “King’s Palace Museum”. Most of the palace has been destroyed, only the front and some supporting structures have remained intact. Entrance is free. The museum displays artefacts found in Kandy and surrounding, some carved stones and many ceramics. The presentation is not a modern one. A guide can be helpful in this case. Kandy’s Archaeological Museum, founded in 1965, is only one in a series of archaeological museums. The idea is to exhibit antiquities collected by the Department of Archaeology to the public at the archeological site instead of deporting all of them to the National Museum in Colombo. More significant archaological museums are at major excavation sites such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dedigama. Other regional archaeological museums were established in Kurunegala, Mahiyangana, Kataragama and Ambalantota. Kandy’s archaological museum is special in so far as it is hosted in a historic building.
location of Kandy's Archaeological Museum (King's Palace Museum)
The nearby National Museum of Kandy is not free of charge but maybe more interesting. The building behind the Tooth Temple once housed the royal concubines. Kandy’s National Museum features the royal regalia and other exhibits of the Kandyan kingdom. It also reminders of pre-European Sinhalese life. You will see ceremonial costumes and masks but also lots of weapons like spears and bows. There are traditional ola leaf manuscripts as well as documents using paper. One of the displays is a copy the Kandyan Treaty which ceded power to the British in 1815. The museum, along with the four Devales and two monasteries – but not the Tooth Temple itself – make up one of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle sites.
location of the National Museum in Kandy
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