That is One Precariously Perched Pagoda, Myanmar

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
March 10 2014 10:54 AM

The Golden Pagoda on the Edge of a Cliff

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At 24 feet tall it may not be the biggest pagoda around, but it is certainly one of the most eye-catching. Kyaiktiyo Pagoda sits atop a huge golden boulder balanced precariously on the edge of a cliff. The boulder, painted gold by Buddhist devotees, sits on a natural rock platform but looks as though it's about to tumble down Mount Kyaiktiyo any second.

According to legend, a Buddhist hermit was given a strand of hair from the Buddha himself, which he then gave to the king. For his gift, the king offered the hermit a stone shaped like his head, and used his magical powers to pull the boulder from the ocean. The king then built the small pagoda atop the rock to enshrine the Buddha's hair for eternity. 

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Pilgrims have flocked to the site for centuries. The hike uphill takes about 30 minutes — if you are unable or unwilling to make the climb, four porters will carry you in a bamboo sedan chair. 

Once at the peak, you are welcome to purchase gold leaf and add it to the rock. Unless, of course, you are a woman — the rules state that ladies must conduct their veneration at least 15 feet from the pagoda.

Other precariously perched places of worship:


View Kyaikhteeyoe Pagoda in a larger map

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.