The Golden Rock

Location Kyaikto Town, Myanmar(Burma)
Golden Rock is one of the world’s unsolved natural mysteries—a shimmering granite boulder teetering on the edge of a cliff. Located in the settlement of Kin-pun, the trek to this spectacle is a long though worthwhile hike— from the nearby town of Kyaik-to, a five-hour hike up a jungle path takes you from near sea level to a heady altitude of 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). However, the sight of this massive gilded boulder perched on the edge of a sheer cliff face is an astonishing reward—some even call it miraculous. Young boys push it to show how easily it can be moved, how precariously it is balanced.
How this rock stays perched on the edge is a complete mystery. The boulder doesn’t even appear to touch the rock it’s balanced upon. The only reason it does not crash into the valley below is because of the 18-foot-(5.5-meter-) high Kaik-tiyo Pagoda shrine that sits atop it. The shrine is said to contain a single strand of the Buddha’s hair, and it is this hair that maintains the rock’s balance. Legend has it that King Tissa, who reigned in the 11th century, was given the hair by a hermit, but only on the condition that he find a huge rock resembling the hermit’s head, move it to the edge of the cliff, build a shrine atop it, and place the hair inside it.
The king found the suitable rock at the bottom of the sea. He raised the rock, gilded it, and transported it to the clifftop in a boat. The boat later turned to stone, and can be seen close to Kyaik-tiyo. As requested by the hermit, the king then built the shrine. Legend has it that one day his queen, the beautiful Shwe-nan-kyin, was walking in the jungle below the cliff when a tiger pounced at her feet. She fixed her eyes on the golden rock and committed herself to the hands of fate. Surprisingly, the tiger turned away as if threatened by the power of the Golden Rock.
The full name for this shrine was “Kayaik-1-thi-ro” which literally translates as “pagoda carried by a hermit on the head.” Over time, however, this has been abbreviated to “Kaik-tiyo.”