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Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > The Golden Rock in Myanmar

The Golden Rock Pagoda in Myanmar: pictures from the Golden Rock and the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.

The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda and the Golden Rock in Myanmar
The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda and the Golden Rock in Myanmar. Pilgrims queue to stick golden leaves on the rock and they make a vow.

The Kyaiktiyo (sometimes written KyeikHtiYo) Pagoda, more commonly known as the Golden Rock Pagoda, is a gorgeous Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar. With the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the Mahamuni Buddha Temple near Mandalay, it is one of the three holiest sites in Myanmar. Every day, crowds of pilgrims come and make devotions, vows and offerings, particularly during the dry season from November to March.
The Golden Rock is a huge precarious boulder, perched on top of a cliff of Mount Kyaiktiyo, 1200 m (3900 ft) above sea level. It has a diameter of about 7 m (23 ft). It weighs about 600 tons US. The granite rock is entirely covered with gold leaves. Many male pilgrims - only men are allowed to approach and touch the sacred rock - constantly add gold leaves to its base. The rock is crowned by the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, a 10 m (33 ft) high stupa. It actually looks as if the rock could fall at any moment.

The Golden Rock is one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar. Foreign tourists who do not visit this site due to lack of time miss certainly a great highlight of sightseeing in Myanmar. The site is indeed exceptional by the huge balancing rock, the crowd of ardent pilgrims, by the magic of the site and the views it offers, not to mention the play of colors at sunrise and sunset. Only mist or scaffolding that may be required to maintain the rock after the rainy season can partially ruin the fabulous charm of the site.

The Golden Rock and the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myanmar
The Golden Rock and the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myanmar. By late afternoon, the atmosphere is rather relaxing.
Pilgrims and tourists wander at the foot of the rock, enjoy the scenery, take photos and talk to each other.
According to legend, Hermit Taik Tha received a hair of Buddha, gave it to King Tisssa and wanted to have it enshrined in a rock, the shape of which resembles his head. Thanks to his supernatural powers, the king discovered the rock at the bottom of the ocean and found the ideal place to place it at Kyaiktiyo. He lets transport the rock by boat. The latter turned into stone while docking at the top of the mountain. The hair of Buddha that is enshrined in the pagoda on the top of the rock keeps the rick in the balance. The petrified boat is also worshiped by pilgrims at the Kyaukthanban Pagoda, 300 m (980 ft) away from the golden rock.

Mount Kyaiktiyo is located in Mon State, about 110 km (68 mi) from Bago and 210 km (130 mi) from Yangon. You can go to the Golden Rock in two ways starting from Kinpun Base Camp at the foot of Mount Kyaiktiyo.

Trucks equipped with wooden slats that serve as seats for about 40 people commute from the base camp to Yatetaung (Ya-Thae-Taung) terminal. They climb the mountain in about 50 minutes. From the terminal, you have still 1, 5 km (0.95 mi) to walk to access the site. On this last stretch, the traveler has the opportunity to have luggage carried by porters or to be transported by sedan chair. In total, the journey from the base camp lasts a bit less than 2 hours.

Trekking the whole path from the base camp is the other way to reach the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. The foot trail is about 12 km (7.5 mi) and the trek lasts 4 to 6 hours. There are several mountains to cross. At night, the trails are not lit and fall hazards are real.

Do not confuse Mt. Kyaiktiyo with the small town of the same name, devoid of interest, which lies on the main road a few kilometers to south in the direction of Bago. The Golden Rock has been copied in different places. Replicas are obviously not comparable to the original site. 

Pilgrims praying at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myanmar
Pilgrims praying and making offerings in front of the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myanmar.

Women cannot get close to the Golden Rock or touch it. They pray and make offerings at the altar located in front the rock. The fervor of the pilgrims is really very impressive. Many Burmese worship both Buddha and the good spirits (nats), including in holy places such as the Golden Rock Pagoda.

Throughout the day, pilgrims flock to the rock, light candles and burn incense. Some of them arrived the night before and spent the night in community shelters (not open to foreigners) or just on the floor of the vast esplanade before the rock. Others arrive in large numbers continuously from the early hours of the day.

At the end of the esplanade of the Golden Rock Pagoda, a staircase leads to Potemkin village where you find souvenir shops, restaurants, and accommodations for Burmese.

Foreign tourists can visit the Golden Rock Pagoda in one day when starting from Bago. But many of them prefer to stay a night on site. Three hotels offer their services to tourists who want to spend the night near the Golden Rock. Other hotel facilities are available to Kinpun at the foot of the mountain.


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Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > The Golden Rock Pagoda

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The Golden Rock Pagoda in Myanmar: pictures from the Golden Rock and the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. Comprehensive travel guide to Myanmar with 200 great pictures.