Kyaiktiyo draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims since December, locals report

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Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have visited the Kyaiktiyo pagoda since last December, and more are still coming, according to interviews with hill-ascent bus terminal officials and locals.
“Things have changed. Pilgrimages were restricted during COVID-19, and the pagoda is now as crowded as usual. It is so crowded that more and more pilgrims are flocking to the pagoda since 24 December. As we are based at the bus terminal and are vendors on the mountain, we know that there are hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. People are still coming,” said an official at the Kyaiktiyo bus terminal.
The period from November to April was the busiest pilgrimage time at Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.
“In the normal period before COVID-19, there were many visitors in Thadingyut and Tazaungdine until December. Many holidaymakers came during the 10-day school holidays. After that, it became less crowded, and it was busy again during the summer school holidays until Thingyan and the full moon day of Kason,” said a local. Many pilgrims visit Kyaiktiyo pagoda by car or cable car, and a few pilgrims climb the hill of pagoda, taking the jungle route. “Among many pilgrims, only a few climb on foot. Many ascend by car. There are larger number of pilgrims this year than last year. Only 10 out of 100 climb on foot,” he said. —Thit Taw/ZN/ED

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