Kyaiktiyo or the Golden Rock Pagoda, which precariously hangs over a cliff edge 1,100 metres above sea level, defying all laws of gravity, is not to be missed by any visitor to Myanmar.
Legend of the Golden Rock
Located 180km south of Yangon in the town of same name, Kyaiktiyo is regarded as one of sacred sites that any devout Myanmar must visit once in their lifetime. The rock itself is 5.5 metres high and is topped by a small pagoda or zedi. It is covered in gold leaf and, like any other Buddhist monument in Myanmar, contains a hair relic of Buddha Gautama.
Legend tells that when the Buddha visited the area he gave a hair relic to a hermit. The hermit went to see the King and requested him to enshrine the relic on a boulder in the shape of the hermits head.
The King who possessed magical powers, found a suitable stone on the bottom of the sea and brought it over to Kyaikto where it was placed in its current location. It is said that the Buddha’s hair, enshrined in the pagoda on top of the boulder, prevents the Golden Rock from crashing down.
According to the legend the boat that was used to transport the boulder turned into stone. A large boulder close the Golden Rock somewhat resembling the shape of a boat has another stupa on top of it named the Kyaukthanban Pagoda.
Around the pagoda is an atmosphere of devotion with the burning candles, the chanting of devotees, the smell of incense sticks and the offerings being made to the shrine. It is said that this place has been a Buddhist place of worship for 2,600 years.
The Golden Rock with the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is one of the most important places of pilgrimage for Buddhists in Burma. Every day many people come to the rock and pay their respect. Devotee pilgrims apply gold leaf to the rock. Only men can do this, as women are not allowed to touch the rock.
Since this is a sacred place, at the main entrance you have to take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot to the Golden Rock. Two large lions or Chinthes guard the entrance to the temple grounds.
After dark the Golden Rock is a place with a mystical atmosphere with all the candle lights and the small of burning incense sticks. The complex consists of several viewing platforms, a number of pagodas, shrines containing Buddha images and shrines for Nats, the Burmese spirits. There are also a few restaurants and guest houses.
Opening Hours: All year round, best time to visit is in the dry season from October to April
Location: Kyaikto in Mon State, 180km east of Yangon, via Bago.
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