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Kyaikhtiyo is a small town in Mon State, Myanmar, famous for its Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda or Golden Rock - a favorite destination for travelers. Travelers from near and far come to visit this place, as they considered Kyaikhtiyo as a sacred place like other pagodas in Myanmar.
Located on the hill of the same name on the ridge between Sittaung and Thanlwin, this pagoda is about 18 feet tall and built on a huge boulder about 50 feet girth, makes anyone surprised in the first see because the boulder is balancing precariously on the edge of 18ft high rock and separated from the mountain edge by a deep chasm over 1100m above the sea level. It is hard to answer the question how the boulder keeps its balance, but it has been there for 2500 years. People believe that the selected boulder and keeping it balance belonging to the supernatural power of the Buddha: just a hair of Buddha can also keep this very huge boulder thousands of year.
The welcome signboard to Kyaikhtiyo is a perfect combination of three colors: white, gold and red. It is a special gate with two big stone animal statues. According to Mon tradition, the name Kyaikhtiyo is a combination of “Kyaik”, “ithi” and “yo”: “Kyaik” means pagoda and “yo” means to carry on the hermit’s head in Mon language and “ithi” means a hermit in Pali, therefore the name of this pagoda means “the pagoda carried on the hermit’s head”. Legend says that a King who received the Buddha’s hair from a hermit decided to build a pagoda to store sacred treasures and was instructed to build in a hermit’s head-shape boulder. Legend also says that all of treasures were stored on the top of minaret. People believe that it is a magic if can touch the boulder therefore they try to touch once when come here although there is a few area touches bases on the large stone and ground. Artisans used gold donated by Buddhists to make a lot of extremely thin gold foils and inlaid them in the boulder. Today, this thin gold foil inlaid minaret boulder is a wonderful destination for all pilgrims.Inside the Shwe Nan Kyin rest place, there are some statues representing the tales of locals. The scene of Kyaikhtiyo is picturesque, considered as a great spectacle, with the view of all sky, sea, mountain and the pagoda.
Come to Kyaikhtiyo, visitors will have a chance to take part in a Festival which beginning from October to March. It is carried out in the time as seasonal pilgrimage period, so it attracts a lot of worshippers. Especially, on the full moon day of Tabaung, the platform of the pagoda is lighted with nicety thousand candles offered to the Buddha and thousands of worshippers gather around the pagoda offering fruits and foods to the Buddha. Worshippers believe that sometimes they have observed rays of color from Buddha’s image.
Visit to Kyaikhtiyo, travelers are easy to access Kyaikhtiyo Wildlife sanctuary with about 50 species of butterflies recorded. Established in 1998 in a tropical rain forest and covering 180.05 square kilometers, this place is habitat of Great Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Blue-throated Barbet, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Swiftlet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Black-headed bulbul, and other mammals such as: goral, gaur, deer, beer and monkey. It is appropriate for ecotourism, birds watching and trekking.
If you have more time for your journey, let you see the Kyaikpawlaw Buddha Image, located in Kantkaw Township. It is well known because of the living mole on the face of Buddha Image which has a great influence to locals. Every year, there is a festival held in the name of this Buddha image with the participation of locals from all parts of the country. According to the locals, if you come here in the first time, you will be astonished by the amazing facts: the image has lively eye, is said to be floating on the water and always facing to the region where Sri Lanka exists.
Kyaikhtiyo is one of the greatest destinations in Myanmar for not only Buddhists but also for travelers who love sightseeing.