After having been in Dat Aung Su with its most welcoming monks, we parted the next day to go visit the famous Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, known as the 'Golden Rock'. This gigantic rock defies gravity by hanging 'miraculously' on the side of a hill, in a position which one would expect it to fall. Legend states that a strand of Buddha's hair, keeps it from falling down the hill. Every year, thousands of Buddhist devotees climb up the mountain to pay respect to this most spiritual shrine by bringing offerings such as candles and food. Its golden surface is made of layer after layer of thin gold leaf which men (women are not aloud to touch the shrine) place on the rock before praying against it. We were warned that the last transports back down the mountain was at 6 pm, however since we wanted to get the best light and in the evening is when mass prayers are under way, we thought we could somehow find someone to take us down after. For To our surprise, it turns out that the road is closed all together after that time and so we had to make a 3 hour hike in pitch black back down the mountain which was an adventure of its own. Staying later however allowed us to experience the most magical situations, with an air filled with spirituality, faith and respect.
A Japanese tourist is carried by Shan local workers up the hill towards the Golden Rock. This is a service which is offered for handicapped and old people or to those who have ambitions to feel like royalty.
The gravity defying Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) is one of Buddhism's most endeared prayer site.
The rock's surface is covered with layer after layer of thin golden leaf. After praying by leaning on the rock, male devotees place these small pieces of gold on the rock. Women are not aloud to touch or even get too near to the rock.
Women praying a distance from Kyaiktiyo Pagoda as they are not permitted to come physically too close to the shrine.
Devotees and monks pray together while facing the golden rock. Many people stay overnight and sleep on the floor of the monastery held next to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.
A monk leans on Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in a deep moment of meditative prayer.