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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Myanmar’s Golden Rock

A giant golden rock balances on the edge of a cliff and sits under the rising and settling sun through its glorious worshipped days. Wrapped up in generations of prayer – the Buddhist pilgrims believe it is balanced by a single strand of Buddha’s hair.
Located in one of the holiest and awe-inspiring sites in Asia is Myanmar’s Golden Rock. The rock is one of the world’s most famous boulders known for its clock of gold leaves, topped by a small stupa and believed to be held by the hair of a Buddha. Welcome to one of the most spectacular and important honoured sites in Myanmar. Night and day an endless stream of pilgrims come to admire the sight, adding squares of golden leaves to its surface.

The large boulder of granite is supported by an extremely small area of contact with the rock beneath – it appears to just be seconds away from dangerously falling down, but instead has been lying in vein for hundreds of years – a truly remarkable natural feature. It is little wonder that it has become regarded with such sacred awe – where the belief of a single strand of hair from Lord Buddha is responsible for maintaining this mysterious balance.

The legend of the golden rock begins with a hermit (an individual choosing to reject material things in life and become apart from society to be completely devoted to god) bringing a hair of the Buddha to his king. The hermit demanded that his gift be enshrined under a rock shaped like the hermits head. Luckily, the king was the son of a zagwi – (a remarkable hermit reborn as a powerful, magical being) and a naga (sea dragon) so he was able to locate and retrieve the rock from the bottom of the ocean. The king built a ship to carry the rock to the mountain, and after the rock was in place, he balanced the rock on the hair of a Buddha and the boat transformed to stone. And believe it or not a stone that resembles the image of a ship can be seen enshrined in the complex.

Another legend explains that the rock actually hovers in the hair above the cliff. Originally, part of the rocks past held enough room beneath it and between the cliffs surface for a chicken to walk under it. Over time the rock sunk down, allowing room just a partridge to walk through, then eventually a sparrow. Today however, it still hovers but the space is so fine it can’t be seen. Nevertheless the rock is still encased in a magical history and is honoured by Buddhist pilgrims.

The Golden rock is a fascinating natural splendour to see – 25 feet high with the personality of crashing down the hill at any point. Topped with an 18 – foot tall pagoda makes a perfect golden touch of commitment to the rock.

Fortunately, this glory has not been cut off from public but those only allowed to approach and touch it is by men that enter from the shrine complex that spreads out behind it on the cliff. This complex consists of several viewing platforms, pagodas and Buddha shrines – providing the perfect settlement for dedicated worshippers to gather behind the rock to bow down in prey and make offerings under the sun. Many men are watched by the eyes of visitors as they carefully place new golden leaves to the boulder, keeping it enriched with its golden shine.

From a non religious outlook – the views seen from the Golden rock are breathtaking. Many curious visitors travel across the world to watch the sunset here, witnessing the ray’s bounce of the golden surface, red cloaks of worshippers bowing and the faces of hope look up at the honoured stone. An exceptional combination of the wonders of nature, commitment of religion, glowing candles, outstanding views and an aura that flocks around the site with the suns heat is truly one of the best delights of our world.

All images used with permission
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