Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is a Buddhist temple built on a large round rock. The rock is perched on a cliff and seems on the verge of falling. The belief is that a single strand of Buddha’s here prevents the rock from rolling down and destroying the pagoda.
Photo: Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, perched on a golden rock (Creative Commons: Romain Pontida).
The Golden Rock Legend
The legend of the golden rock begins with Buddha giving a strand of hair to a hermit. In turn, the hermit offers the strand to his king. The hermit instructs the king to place the gift beneath a rock resembling the hermit’s head.
The king agrees and seeks out such a rock. The rock is found at the bottom of the ocean and placed on the edge of a cliff. The rock is balanced on the single strand of Buddha’s hair.
Buddhist Pilgrimage Site
Today, the pagoda and rock continues to be a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists in Burma. It is considered one of the most sacred sites in the country. The site has been worshipped for over 2,600 years.
The golden color of the rock comes from the custom of placing gold leaf on the rock. Only men are permitted to lay the gold leaf. The site is visited daily by Buddhist pilgrims.
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