TREADING UPON THE MARBLE STAIRS AND KNEELING DOWN IN REVERENCE, WE CAN FEEL OUR SOULS FLOATING FREE
Kyaiktyo Pagoda (also known as the Golden Rock Pagoda) is a small 7.3m-high pagoda set upon a huge golden boulder at the summit of Kyaiktyo Mount. Its location, unique beauty and legends make this pagoda one of the most impressive cultural and religious sites in Myanmar. Kyaiktyo Mount rises about 1,100m above sea level, near Kyaiktyo Town, Thaton District in Mon State of Myanmar. It is associated with a legend about Buddha's descent into the mortal world. Buddha offered a strand of hair to a hermit named Taik Tha. The hermit later passed the Buddha's hair to his adoptive son, King Tissa, who ruled Myanmar in the 11th century, with instructions to bury this relic under a rock shaped like the hermit's head. Following the hermit's instructions, King Tissa visited the rock on Kyaiktyo Mount and built a pagoda for the Buddha's relic. According to the locals, it is Buddha's sacred hair that has kept the massive boulder balanced on the edge of a cliff for thousands of years.
The sight of this precariously balanced golden rock and the locals' strong faith hold visitors to Kyaiktyo Pagoda spellbound. Pilgrims paste gold leaf onto the rock. Traditionally, only men were allowed to approach the Golden Rock to stick thin gold leaves onto it and reverently press their foreheads against it. Women were only allowed to dedicate sacrifices and kneel some distance away in prayer.
At dawn, sunset or under the moonlight, this shrine is especially enthralling. When soft rays of light hit the rock, it resembles Nirvana. Many paths lead to Kyaiktyo Pagoda from the foot of the mountain. Visitors will find two gigantic lions standing guard on either side of the entrance. All pilgrims and monks are requested to walk barefoot on the mountain. Treading upon the marble stairs and kneeling down in reverence, we can feel our souls float free to Buddha's dominion. Pilgrims bow to the Golden Rock to pray and entrust their faith to Buddha. Today, Kyaiktyo Pagoda is a key religious site for Buddhists from all over the world and one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Myanmar.