At 1,100 meters above sea level, hanging from the edge of a cliff is the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, popularly known by the name of the Golden Rock. The golden rock of Kyaiktiyo mixes green landscapes, privileged views of southern Myanmar, mysticism and religion in one of the most magical excursions in all of Burma.
After an early breakfast in Yangon, we begin our journey to the Golden Rock with a short drive north to the town of Bago. Stops along the way include the famous Kya Khet Wine Monastery and the Shwe Thar Lyaung Pagoda which houses a fabulous image of the reclining Buddha. From here, it is just a short drive to our next stop at the magnificent Shwemawdaw Pagoda. Over 1000 years old, and standing taller than Yangon’s famous Shwedagon Pagoda, this is one of the most important monuments in the region. Finally, we arrive to the site of the Golden Rock, which can only be accessed on foot or by taking a truck along a winding mountain path to the top of the hill.
Perched precariously on a towering cliff edge and covered entirely in pure gold leaf, this mighty rock it is not only an incredible sight but also a significant religious site. Measuring some 25 feet in height, the giant boulder sits perfectly balanced on a natural ledge. Legend has it a strand of Buddha’s hair prevents the rock from falling off the cliff, and so it has resisted time and even earthquakes that are not uncommon in the part of the world.
A small stupa sits on top of the rock which is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists, and draw the faithful from across the country. A common practice is for devotees to cross over a bridge across an abyss to affix golden leaves (square in shape) on the face of the Golden Rock, in deep veneration.
*Please not that currently, women are not allowed into the inner sanctuary of the rocks vicinity, maintained by an employed security guard who watches over the gated entrance. Women are permitted in the outer balcony and the lower courtyard of the rock. The belief stems from the practice of women forbidden to make physical contact with male monks, who are vowed under chastity, as the rock itself represents a Buddhist monk resembling its head.