The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Burmese: က်ဳိက္ထီးရိုး ဘုရား, pronounced: [tɕaiʔtʰíjó pʰəjá]; Mon: ကျာ်သိယဵု, [tɕaiʔ sɔeʔ jɜ̀]), also known as Golden Rock) is a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site in Mon State, Myanmar.
It is a small pagoda (7.3 metres (24 ft)) built on the top of a granite boulder covered with gold leaves pasted on by devotees. According to legend, the Golden Rock itself is precariously perched on a strand of the Buddha's hair.
The balancing rock seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill.
The rock and the pagoda are at the top of Mt. Kyaiktiyo. It is the third most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in Burma after the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Mahamuni Pagoda. A glimpse of the "gravity defying" Golden Rock is believed to be enough of an inspiration for any person to turn to Buddhism.
In the Mon language, the word 'kyaik' (ကျာ်) means "pagoda" and 'yo' (ယဵု) means "to carry on the hermit's head". The word 'ithi' (ဣသိ in Mon (from Pali ရိသိ, risi) means "hermit". Thus, 'Kyaik-htiyo' means "pagoda upon a hermit's head".
They had found the rock at the bottom of the sea. With the help of the Thagyamin, the king of Tawadeintha Heaven in Buddhist cosmology, found the perfect place at Kyaiktiyo for locating the golden rock and build a pagoda, where the strand was enshrined. It is this strand of hair that, according to the legend, prevents the rock from tumbling down the hill.
The boat, which was used to transport the rock, turned into a stone. This also is now worshipped by pilgrims at a location about 300 metres (980 ft) from the golden rock. It is known as the Kyaukthanban Pagoda or stupa (literal meaning: stone boat stupa).
It is the closest to the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.
From Kyaiktiyo, the foot trail or road starts for the Golden rock. On this approach, there are numerous granite boulders on the mountain, perched in precarious condition.
From this location, known as Yatetaung (the last point for vehicular traffic), pilgrims and visitors have to climb to the Golden Rock barefoot, after leaving their footwear behind, as per Burmese custom.
The paved mountain track, built in 1999, from the bus terminal at Yatetaung, is along a dusty section with kiosks on both sides and the climb of 1.2 km up to the Golden Rock is stiff and takes about one hour to reach.
The boulder, which gleams golden and popularly known as the Golden Rock on which the small Kyaiktiyo Pagoda has been built, is about 25 feet (7.6 m) in height and has a circumference of 50 feet (15 m).
The Pagoda above the rock is about 7.3 metres (24 ft) in height.
This granite boulder lies on an inclined plane and the area of contact is extremely small.
The golden rock or boulder and the rock table on which it is resting are independent of each other; the golden rock has an overhang of half its length and is perched at the extreme end of the sloping surface of the rock.
There is a sheer vertical drop in the rock face, into the valley below.
Adjoining the plaza area is the Potemkin village where restaurants, gift shops, and guest houses are located. A new terrace has been built at a lower level from which visitors can get a good view of the rock and the pagoda.
As the golden rock gleams in different shades from dawn to dusk (the sight at dawn and at sunset are unique), pilgrims' chants reverberate in the precincts of the shrine. Lighting of candles, meditation and offerings to the Buddha continues throughout the night.
Men cross over a bridge across an abyss to affix golden leaves (square in shape) on the face of the Golden Rock, in deep veneration.
Even disabled persons who are staunch devotees of Buddha visit the pagoda, walking up the track on crutches. Old people, who can not climb, are carried on stretchers by porters to the Pagoda to offer prayers to Buddha.