Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo)
One of Burma’s most sacred sites, Golden Rock (known locally as Kyaiktiyo Paya) draws throngs of devotees from across the country, whilst its gilded exterior and seemingly gravity defying cliff top position is the main draw for the tourists. Undoubtedly the town of Kyaiktiyo’s main attraction, it is a dramatic landmark steeped in legend and offers fantastic views over the surrounding countryside.
The Golden Rock consists of an almost 20 foot high gilded pagoda on top of a large granite boulder, completely covered in gold leaf from years of visiting male devotees, all precariously perched at the edge of a 1,100 metre high mountain. According to legend, it has maintained its fragile position over the years (including several earthquakes) due to a single strand of Buddha’s hair housed within, passed from a hermit to King Tissa in the 11th Century.
After a thrilling journey on the back of an open-truck and an hour long walk past tea houses and souvenir stalls, visitors are rewarded with striking views of the rock and surrounding countryside from a number of viewing platforms. Male visitors are able to cross a bridge into the rock’s inner sanctuary, perhaps even adding to its gold-leaf layers.
Although busier, visiting the Golden Rock during pilgrimage season from November to March offers a particularly special experience, where large numbers of pilgrims come together to chant, light candles and meditate from the day into the night.