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This museum once housed Kandyan royal concubines and now features royal regalia and reminders of pre-European Sinhalese life. One of the most impressive exhibits is Rajasinha II's golden crown, but for visitors the museum is let down by poor lighting, labelling and general layout. The tall-pillared audience hall hosted the convention of Kandyan chiefs that ceded the kingdom to Britain in 1815.
One of the displays is a copy of the 1815 agreement that handed over the Kandyan provinces to British rule. This document announces a major reason for the event: '…the cruelties and oppressions of the Malabar ruler'.
Sri Wickrama Rajasinha was declared ‘by the habitual violation of the chief and most sacred duties of a sovereign’, to be ‘fallen and deposed from office of king’ and ‘dominion of the Kandyan provinces’ was ‘vested in…the British Empire’.
The museum, along with four devales (complexes for worshipping deities) and two monasteries – but not the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic itself – make up one of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle sites.