Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock)

By Win Sein


Kyaiktiyo is a pagoda atop a mountain named after it, meaning “Pagoda on a hermit’s head”. The pagoda stands at 20 feet tall and is con­structed on a granite boulder covered with gold leaves by devotees of Buddha, giving it a golden appearance.


The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda was built more than 2,500 years ago, and legend has it that the pagoda was constructed on a hair relic that was given to a hermit by Buddha Himself. The hermit treasured the sacred hair and hid it in his hair knot until he found a boulder resembling his head on which he then built a pagoda to enshrine it.


Pagoda upon a hermit’s head: In the Mon language, the word “Kyaik” means “Pagoda” and “Yo” means “to carry on the hermit’s head. The word “ti” in Mon means “hermit”, thus “Kyai­ktiyo” means “pagoda upon a her­mit’s head”.


The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is one of Myanmar’s three most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites, along with the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, and is one of the world’s most important pilgrim sites to Buddhists and the second most important in all of Myanmar’s religious relics. It’s also known worldwide and attracts people from far and near to flock there to experience it in person because the Golden Rock perched on the edge of a hill is of great aston­ishment.


Kyaiktiyo is a 20-foot-tall pa­goda perching on top of a moun­tain. The mountain’s name, “Kyai­ktiyo”, translates to “Pagoda on a hermit’s head”. “The Rock,” which appears to be in gold, is actually a granite boulder cov­ered with gold leaves applied to the Rock by Buddha devotees.


According to legend, the great granite boulder is kept in place by a single strand of Buddha’s hair that He Himself gave in a talk to a hermit during one of his visits to the Rock. He tucked the strand of hair from the left of his own head, safely bring­ing Buddha’s strand to his king. The hermit instructed that his gift was to be enshrined under a rock shaped like a hermit’s head. Fortunately for the king, he had inherited supernatural powers from his father, Zawgyi, a profi­cient alchemist and his mother, a serpent dragon princess. With his parents’ help, they found the Rock, which would finally com­plete the shrine. At the bottom of the sea, the king had a ship constructed to carry the Rock to the top of the mountain. It’s this strand of hair that, accord­ing to the legend, stops the Rock from tumbling down the hill. The boat, which was used to trans­port the Rock, had turned into stone, which explains why the pagoda looks a bit like the ship enshrined in the complex with its magnificent weight perfectly bal­anced on the edge of a cliff. The Golden Rock is truly a natural and extraordinary sight, which is why it is regarded with such sa­cred astonishment. The scenery from the Golden Rock is a spec­tacular sight, and many visitors stay behind the Rock to watch the sunset. The Kyaiktiyo shrine complex consists of several view­ing platforms, pagodas, and Bud­dha shrines. Devotees gather in the area behind the Rock to pray and make offerings, and almost everyone attaches a golden leaf to the Rock as an act of merit. A glimpse of the fascinating Golden Rock is believed to be enough to inspire and enlighten any person to turn to Buddhism. Also, ac­cording to legend, pilgrims who trek the base camp three times consecutively in a year would be blessed with wealth and respect.


Myanmar, as the title of this post states, is in the land of golden pagodas. Yes, you are correct. Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is a small pagoda (7.3 metres or 24 feet) built on the top of a granite boulder.


Constructed in 574 BC, Kyai­ktiyo Pagoda is one of the world’s most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists and the third most important pilgrimage site in My­anmar after Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the Maha Muni Buddha Image in Mandalay. The Golden Rock, situated at the edge of a hill, is of great importance. It looks like it’s defying gravity, and legend says that the Rock is able to stay balanced; it’s being held balanced by a hair from Buddha. The link to Buddha is the reason why so many people make the trip there each year. But regardless of faith or religion, it’s an aston­ishing place where you truly take your breath away.


It’s said that the Rock has been positioned there for more than 2,500 years; it’s been entire­ly gilded with gold, making it all the more impressive. Buddhists believe that the power of the relic enshrined in the pagoda relating to the religious story of Buddha’s hair keeps it in place.


Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is a stun­ning place. There are many treas­ures, and you might want to visit it. It’s one of the favourite places for so many people worldwide to visit to experience the exotic attraction after all.