Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, known to the west as "Golden Rock," perches on the edge of a cliff at the top of Kyaikhto mountains, part of the Eastern Yoma. This magnificent "Golden Rock" is the most meditative and popular tourist attraction in Mon State. A small Stupa rests on top of a big boulder covered in gold leaf, which balances on the cliff, thanks to a Sacred Hair of the Buddha enshrined or preserved inside the Stupa.
Kyaikhtiyo is 160 km from Yangon and is an important place of pilgrimage for all Buddhists. It can be reached either by car or by train. There is a well-beaten path up to the top of the mountain from the base-camp called Kinpun. Devotees usually climb uphill about 13 km on foot from the base-camp.
However, a motor road has been built recently up to the next camp called Yathetaung (about 45-minute drive), from where it takes another 45-minute to walk up. All the tiredness along the way disappears once one reaches the top since a spectacular view wait there, especially at sunrise or sunset. On a clear day one can see the Andaman Sea glistening in the distance.
The legend about the Golden Rock Pagoda says that there the sacred hair of Lord Gautama Buddha was enshrined. Hiking towards the top of the Golden Rock hill through many climbs and forest path offer exhilarating joy however so exhausting that if the pilgrim can attempt three times in succession in 1 year to reach the sacred Rock he will be blessed with riches and fame.
Although small in size (the height of the Pagoda is 22’-8” or 6.9 meters, and that of the boulder on which the Pagoda was built is 22’ or 6.7 meters) it is one of the most revered and celebrated Pagodas in Myanmar. It could be qualified as one of the wonders of the world by virtue of the fact that it sits uniquely at the apex of a huge, almost egg shape granite boulder.
This boulder (now completely gilded) is precariously perched on a projecting tabular rock. The gilded boulder and the rock table are two separate pieces, the boulder actually balancing off the extreme verge of the sloping surface of the rock and overhanging it by nearly half its length. The slope drops down perpendicularly into a valley below.
It is not known what nature?s law has kept the boulder in its precarious position for many centuries and despite several violent earthquakes. But it is known that pilgrims used to trek 12 km up Mt Kyaikhtiyo from a base camp at Kinmon, which consists largely of guesthouses, places to eat and souvenir shops.
Only in 1999 a paved mountain road linking the base camp and Ya-the-taung camp (now bus station) on the hill was built, thus leaving only 1.2 km hike to the Golden Rock. Most of the tourists coming to Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda use network of many kilometers of foot trails to go other parts of the mountains where there are other smaller lately built temples and pagodas, and many good vintage locations for photographing.