Perched dangerously on the edge of a cliff, pilgrims have been visiting the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda for centuries to meditate and give offerings to the Buddha.
Whether this worship keeps the boulder from rolling down the precipice is unclear, but the gold-leaf covered stone certainly inspires all who visit. At 25 feet high and 50 feet around, the golden boulder in Mon State, Myanmar is hard to miss.
According to legend, a Buddhist hermit was given a strand of hair from the Buddha himself, which he then gave to the king. For his gift, the king offered the hermit a boulder shaped like his head, and used magical powers to pull the boulder from the ocean. The king then built the small pagoda atop the rock to enshrine the Buddha’s hair for all eternity and pilgrims have flocked to the site ever since.
Although the pagoda is small by comparison to other grand Buddhist places of worship, its location on the precarious boulder makes up for its miniature 24-foot spire. Seemingly barely resting on its base, the precariously placed golden rock draws thousands every year. Pilgrimage is at its peak during the Full Moon day of Tabaung in March, when 90,000 candles are lit at the site and the golden boulder shines in the night sky.
Know Before You Go
There is accommodation available at the top of the Mountain, or in Kinpun, at the foot of the Mountain, where you can then travel up by pick-up truck (one way costs 2,500 Kyat). Getting to Kinpun is a 4-5 hour bus ride from Yangon, or 6 hour train journey.