Mount Kyaiktiyo, famous for the huge golden rock perched at its summit, is one of the three most sacred religious Buddhist sites in Myanmar. Crowned with a slender gold stupa, the rock is a huge granite boulder perched precariously on a natural stone plinth that Burmese Buddhists believe has been held in place by a few strands of Buddha’s hair.
The balancing rock seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill. Pilgrims come here from far and wide to worship and add gold leaf, hence its color. The rock stands 7.6 metres tall and the gilded pagoda which sits on top of it is 7.3 metres.
The legend associated with the pagoda is that the Buddha, on one of his many visits, gave a strand of his hair to Taik Tha, a hermit. The hermit, who had tucked it in the tuft of his hair safely, in turn gave the strand to the king, with the wish that the hair be enshrined in a boulder shaped like the hermit’s head. The king had inherited supernatural powers from his father Zawgyi, a proficient alchemist), and his mother, a naga serpent dragon princess.
They 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 built 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 is also worshiped by pilgrims at a location about 300 metres from the golden rock. It is known as the Kyaukthanban Pagoda or stupa (literal meaning: stone boat stupa).
Legends also mention that pilgrims undertaking the pilgrimage by trekking from the Kinpun base camp three times consecutively in a year will be blessed with wealth and recognition.
Sources: wikipedia.org | 500px.com