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Golden Rock

Photo © Hartfried Schmid. View all images in our Golden Rock Photo Gallery.
Photo © Roel Meurders.
Photo © Hartfried Schmid.
Photo © Ross Thomson.
Photo © Roel Meurders.
Photo © Ross Thomson.

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.

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.

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.

Video of the Golden Rock

(If the video is not visible above, you can view it here on YouTube.)


Quick Facts on Golden Rock

Site Information
Names:Golden Rock
Country:Burma
Categories:Sacred Rocks
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Burma
Coordinates:17.483800° N, 97.098200° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Golden Rock

Below is a location map and aerial view of Golden Rock. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Robert Wilson, "Kyaiktiyo: The Golden Rock That Balances on a Hair." Jade Dragon Online, April-June 2006.
  2. The Golden Rock with the Kyaik-htiyo-Pagoda - Kaspar-Sickermann

More Information

Article Info

Title:Golden Rock
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/03/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/burma/golden-rock-kyaiktiyo
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/burma/golden-rock-kyaiktiyo">Golden Rock</a>