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An enchanting journeys to the land of fantasy. Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda known to the world as Golden Rock is in the area of ancient kingdom of Suvannabhumi, meaning the golden land. This small 18-foot-high pagoda is built on a gilded boulder 25 meters in circumference balanced in what appears to be a very precarious position on a tabular rock jutting out from the Paung-laung ridge of the Eastern Yoma mountains. Lies 1,100 m above sea-level, 180 km from Yangon (approx 6 hours) by private minivan to the to the base camp call Kinponsakan, from here an upper staging point, the journey made in open truck on a recently built road from the base camp to the top of Rathedaung. From the here travelers must, at present, walk the final stage, approx. 1.5 km. As an easier alternative to walking, four porters at an extra cost can carry visitors in sedan chairs.
They provide ample space for hikers to rest, eat, bathe or recline. Pilgrims are not bothered by the heat, as the sun's rays are unable to penetrate the jungle canopy covering the entire route. The legend of Kyaikhtiyo recounts that in the 11th century King Tissa received a strand of the Buddha's hair from an old hermit on condition that it is enshrined in a pagoda built on a boulder resembling the hermit's head. Thus the rock was found at the bottom of the sea and carried to the top of the mountain. The boulder was placed on the tabular rock and its delicate balance maintained by the precisely placed hair of the Buddha, enshrined in the small pagoda on top. This pagoda was named Khyaik-ei-thi-yo, which in the Mon language, means "pagoda borne on a hermit's head." A deep gorge separates the platform on the Paunglaung Ridge from the Pagoda standing on the gilded, hermit-head shaped boulder. The iron bridge spanning the gorge is used by male devotees to pay closer homage to the Pagoda and to guild the Golden Rock making it brighter and brighter in the sunlight.
Once the capital of the flourishing Mon Kingdom of Suvannabhumi in the 3rd Century BC, Thahton has lost much of its former grandeur and importance. Situated due east of Yangon across the gulf of Moattama, it is located on the rail and road route from Yangon to Moattama. Thahton is the historical birthplace of Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar. Two missionaries were sent by Indian king Asoka to introduce Theravada Buddhism to Myanmar when Thahton was thriving port trading with South India and Sri Lanka. In the 11th Century, Shin Arahan, a monk from Thahton went north to Bagan and converted king Anawrahta to the purer Theravada form of Buddhism. Anawrahta's religious zeal led to his conquest of Thahton in 1057 when he obtained not only the Tripitakas (Buddha's teaching) he desired but also brought back the Mon king and his court, thereby introducing the influences of Mon culture in the Myanmar capital. The present day Thahton has been built over the old site, very little of the city can be seen. What remains are traces of the city walls and pagodas of interest such as the Shwesaryan, believed to date back to the 5th Century BC. Nearby are the ruined fortifications of Taikkala, a site at Ayetthema Village regarded as the actual city of Suvannabhumi.
Hpa - AnThe capital of the Kayin State, is situated about 170 miles from Yangon on the eastern bank of the Than Lwin (Salween) river. It can also be reached by boat from Mawlamying. The picturesque Mt. Zwekapin is only 10 miles away. Ethnological Museum and Main Market are interesting places. It is worthy of seeing the village life of the different tribes of Kayin people along the bank of the river.