Visit The Golden Rock Temple

Visit The Golden Rock Temple

The Golden Rock Temple is also known as the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.  Kyaiktiyo, which is part of the Mon language, translates to "pagoda upon a hermit's head".  It is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site found in Mon State, Burma in Southern Asia.


The Golden Rock Temple is situated close to Kyaikto in Mon State.  Mon State is in the northern section of the Tenasserim coast.  3,608 feet above sea level, The Golden Rock Temple sits atop Mount Kyaiktiyo on the Paung-laung ridge which is a part of the Eastern Yoma mountains.  The rock under the temple is reportedly just “stuck”, with the larger rock underneath it.  


For those unfamiliar with the term, a pagoda is a type of tower constructed on multiple levels as a way of honoring the gods and saints.  The Golden Rock Temple is a 23 feet tall pagoda constructed on the top of a granite boulder covered with gold leaves put there by Buddhist devotees. This gives one the illusion that the rocks are levitating as the balancing rock appears to be defying gravity.  It always looks as if it is just about to roll down the hill.  Some people believe that just a brief look at the “gravity defying" Golden Rock is enough to make someone become a Buddhist.


According to local legend, on one of his numerous visits, Buddha, gave a single strand of his hair to a hermit named Taik Tha.  Tha tucked the single hair into the tuft of his own hair to keep it safe.  He took it to the king hoping the king would enshrine the single hair in a big boulder shaped like his (Tha the hermit’s) head. The king had supernatural powers that he had inherited from his mother-- a “naga serpent dragon princess and from his father, a skilled alchemist named Zawgyi.  Thanks to his powers, a properly-shaped golden rock was soon found under the sea. They then searched for the perfect place to put the rock.  That location was Kyaiktiyo.  The pagoda was built and the single strand of hair was enshrined therein.  It is that very same single strand of hair that prevents the rock from rolling down the hill to this day. There is also another legend that the locals share with tourists.  It states that any and all pilgrims who hike from the Kinpun base camp to the Golden Rock Temple three times consecutively in the period of a single year will be blessed with both fame and fortune.  Perhaps these legends are part of the reason why the site is the third most significant Buddhist pilgrimage destination.

Best Time to Visit

The peak of the pilgrimage season runs from some time in November until March.  During this time tourists must be aware that the atmosphere at this time is one of quiet spiritual devotion.  Buddhist pilgrims from around the world young, old and even disabled travel here to offer their prayers to Buddha.

The golden rock shines in various colorful shades from dawn until dusk.  Those who have visited the site report that the unique sights occur at dawn and at sunset.  Meanwhile, during the pilgrimage season especially, Buddhists light candles, meditate, chant and make offerings to Buddha all through the night.  It is said to be a “must see” sight and a spiritual experience.

(All images are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated.)

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