Myanmar's Kyaiktiyo Pagoda
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda also known as Golden Rock) is a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site in Mon State, Burma. A small pagoda (5.5 m (18 ft)) sits on top of a golden rock, a granite boulder covered with gold leaves pasted on by devotees. The rock itself is precariously perched and seems to defy gravity as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill. The rock and 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.
According to the legend associated with the pagoda, the Buddha, on one of his many visits to earth, gave a strand of his hair to Taik Tha, a hermit. The hermit, in turn, gave the strand to his adopted son King Tissa, an 11th Century Burmese king, with the dying wish that the hair be enshrined in a boulder shaped like the hermit's head. Tissa, with the help of the Thagymin, the king of the Nats found the perfect place for the pagoda at Kyaiktiyo 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 village of Kinpun (16 km (10 mi)) at the base of Mt. Kyaiktiyo is the closest village to the pagoda. There are numerous other granite boulders on the mountain, some rocking and some not.
Kyaiktiyo has become a popular tourist attraction place of Pagodas in Burma.
Every now and then you end up with a provocative photograph that generates such an amount of curiosity that is expressed over-and-over again. In my case this would be the Kyaik-tiyo (Kyaiktiyo) Pagoda photograph taken in Maynmar in 2004. It is truly a fantastic site and like many, there is a fantastic story behind it.
The Kyaik-tiyo Pagoda, often referred to as the Golden Rock, is about a six hour journey by car from Yangon (Rangoon), in North-western Mon State in Myanmar. It is a famous and spectacular Buddhist pilgrimage site which requires quite a bit of work to get to, but the sight and story behind it more than compensates for the long drive and 16km (10mi) hike to the top of the mountain. It is in fact the most revered Buddhist site in Myanmar. The trip is made of a car trip to the base of the mountain, a truck lift to the up-most station the truck is allowed to and a hike to the top. The very inclined slope zigzags along the mountain face and constitutes the last 90 minutes of the hike. Young Burmese will offer their help as porters for your increasingly heavy backpack while others could carry you to the top of the mountain like a short of breath pharaoh who can't take it anymore. If you don't consider yourself fit for the steep, hot and humid hike, it will be the best $10USD you will ever spend. Sure I had to prove myself and hike it myself, but in retrospect, carrying all the camera gear - I should had taken the ride.
The Golden Rock is a large boulder which stands precariously balanced at the edge of a cliff of what is essentially looks to be the top of mountain Kyaikto. Believers claim that it was placed at the cliff's edge by two nats (Burmese guardian spirits) 2500 years ago on top of a hair of Buddha. The nats used a boat to search for the best location on which to keep this sacred hair. Having found a location on top of the tallest mountain around, the Nats placed a large boulder on top of the hair to keep it safe. The boat turned into a rock and it (or at least a boat shaped rock) is located near the Golden rock for visitors to see. It is this hair of Buddha what maintains the boulder balanced and prevents it from falling. Among the different offerings pilgrims make at the site, one tests the rock's precarious circumstances. A thin bamboo stick (with an inserted bill) is placed standing between the boulder and the floor. This allows the pilgrims to see how the bamboo stick flexes due to the rocking of the balancing boulder. A golden pagoda 5.5m (18ft) tall sits on top of the rock.
The rock is completely covered in gold leafs, tradition which continues to this day, making it the most popular offering made at the site. Man of all ages (no women are allowed near the rock) walk to the platform adding gold leafs to gain merit and touch the rock before kneeling and starting their pairs. The site is fantastic. One has to wonder where would the boulder come from and how it came to rest where it is. The place becomes magical during the sunrise and sunset hours. The range of colors and calm, spiritual atmosphere relaxes all of your senses and makes you reflect on the sight in front of you.
Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Division on the north and Tanintharyi Division on the south, and has a short border with Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province at its south-eastern tip. The land area is 12,155 km². Mon State includes many small islands along its 566 km of coastline. Its capital is Mawlamyaing, formerly Moulmein.
Mon kingdoms (9th-11th/13th-16th/18th centuries)
Advent of the British
In 1974, partially to assuage Mon separatist demands, the theoretically autonomous Mon State, was created out of portions of Thaninthayi Division and Bago Division. Resistance continued until 1995, when NMSP and SLORC agreed a cease-fire and in 1996, the Mon Unity League was founded. SLORC troops continued to operate in defiance of the agreement. The human rights situation in Mon State has not improved. International organizations have repeatedly accused the Myanmar government for massive human rights violations in Mon State, including forced labor, arbitrary detention, population transfer, property confiscation, rape, etc.
Demographics and geography
Climate and weather
Other industries include paper, sugar, rubber tires. Thaton has a major factory (Burmese, Ka-Sa-La) of rubber products run by Ministry of Industry. Forests cover approximately half of the area and timber production is one of the major contributors to the economy. Minerals extracted from the area include salt, antimony, and granite. Natural resources such as forest products, and onshore and offshore mineral resources, are exploited only by top Myanmar military leaders and foreign companies. At the present time one of the biggest foreign investments into Myanmar is for the exploitation of natural gas reserves in Mon State. The Yadana Gas project which connected pipelines alongside the towns of Mon state made harassed danger to the native Mon land and Mon people.
In the past during the socialist regime, the trading of Mon state was exceptional because the Mon business persons had fantastic deals with the foreign enterprises from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Imports and exports of goods from and to that countries were made via seaports of Mawlamyaing, Ye and Thanbyuzayat district. Although it seemed to be unofficial trading in the past, it absolutely developed Mon State if compared to the decline economy of the current situation.
The future plans with tourism will benefit Mon state a lot as it has excellent transportation with the capital Rangoon. Transportation routes include Train, Bus, Sea line and Airlines. The newly opened Mawlamyaing Bridge gives quick access from southern Ye to North Bago and Rangoon by a day journey. Three Pagoda Pass is an alternative route which communicates Mon state with neighbour Kanchanaburi province of Thailand.
Sites of interest
Politics and administration
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