Myth and Mystery, Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo) – Myanmar (Burma)

myth-and-mystery-golden-rock-kyaiktiyo-myanmar-burma image 1

Golden Rock

Quick Facts
Names:     Kyaiktiyo; Golden Rock
Type of site:     Buddhist shrine; indigenous religious shrine
Faith:     Buddhism
Status:     Active
Dates:     c.500 BC
Location:     At Kyaikto in Mon state, about 60 km east of Bago and 180km east of Yangon.
Hours:     Always open
Cost:     Free

The Golden Rock (Kyaik-htiyo or Kyaiktiyo), perched atop a cliff near Yangon, is one of the most sacred sites in Burma. The great boulder precariously balances on the edge of a cliff and is topped by a small stupa. An endless stream of pilgrims come to admire the sight and add squares of gold leaf to its surface.

Myth and Mystery

With its great weight balanced so precariously on the cliff edge, the Golden Rock is a truly extraordinary natural feature. It is little wonder it is regarded with such sacred awe. According to legend, it is kept in place by a single hair of the Buddha. The main legend of the Golden Rock begins with a hermit bringing a hair of the Buddha to his king. The hermit instructed that his gift be enshrined under a rock shaped like the hermit’s head. (The name Kyaik-htiyo means “Pagoda on a Hermit’s Head.”)

Fortunately the king was the son of a zagwi (a hermit reborn as a powerful, magical being) and a naga (sea dragon) so he was able to find and retrieve the rock from the bottom of the ocean.

Myth and Mystery, Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo) - Myanmar (Burma)

Myth and Mystery, Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo) - Myanmar (Burma)

The king built a ship to carry the rock to the mountain. After the rock was in place, balanced on the hair of the Buddha, the boat turned to stone. A stone that looks a bit like a ship is enshrined in the complex.

Another legend explains that the rock actually hovers in the air above the cliff. Originally there was enough room between for a chicken to walk under it, then it sunk a bit and only a partridge could walk through, and finally only a sparrow could walk through. Today it still hovers, but the space is so narrow that it can’t be seen.
What to See

The Golden Rock is a great boulder about 25 feet high, which looks like it could crash down the hill at any moment. Its area of contact with the cliff is extremely small. The gilded boulder is topped with an 18-foot tall pagoda.

The great rock suddenly and spectacularly comes into view from the steep path up the hill, and can then be approached and touched (by men only) from the shrine complex that spreads out behind it on the cliff.

The Kyaiktiyo shrine complex consists of several viewing platforms, pagodas, Buddha shrines and nat spirit shrines. Worshipers gather in the area behind the rock to pray and make offerings, and nearly all apply a square of gold leaf to the rock as an offering and act of merit.

Myth and Mystery, Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo) - Myanmar (Burma)

Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo)

Away from the main shrine complex is a circle of eight gongs with four statues of nats and angels in the center.

The views from the Golden Rock are spectacular and many visitors stay to watch the sunset.

Getting There

The Golden Rock is not easy to reach. It requires a cramped bus ride from Yangon followed by a 10-mile (16km) hike or ride in a jeep followed by a 3km walk or ride in a litter.



Source: (with little change in the composition)


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