We were told you haven’t really seen Myanmar unless you’ve seen Golden Rock. Golden Rock is a huge gravity defying granite boulder covered in gold leaf which sits precariously, according to legend, on top of a strand of the Buddha’s hair. On top of the rock is a small gold cheti.
It’s one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Myanmar and brings thousands of people each year from all parts of the country. Christina and I took a train from Yangon to the town of Kyaikto, 5 hours East, to witness this sacred place.
Kyaikto is the base town for visiting Golden Rock. With the intense heat we decided to wait until sunset. Late in the afternoon we crammed into the back of a truck with about 40 local people and whipped up the mountain for Golden Rock.
When we got out of the truck we removed our shoes and walked up a series of steps. There were hundreds of people there, most traveling in huge groups. Entire families had made the pilgrimage together, carrying huge bags that looked like they were to stay for weeks.
As we got closer the steps took us to a huge opening where many families had already spread out and claimed their plot for the evening. We made our way through the crowd and toward the rock. It was glowing brightly, reflecting the sun’s intensity.
There was a small bridge over to the rock where people were able to place a gold leaf and pray. Only men are allowed to cross the bridge to the rock. While Christina caught sight of it at a distance, I walked across the threshold to place my gold leaf.
For a long time afterwards we sat on a balcony that wrapped directly under the hanging boulder. The people around us sat praying, some chanting, mediating, and some looked intrigued at the several foreigners walking around.
The mood felt more and more peaceful as the sun set. It was of the most spiritual places I’ve ever been.