Welcome to Mount Olympus. Well, not quite. Mount Popa is still the mountain of the gods, just like the mentioned Greek landmark. Located about 50 kilometers from Bagan, it is a nice change of pace from the temple touring in the ancient city. Mount Popa stands 1518 meters above ground and is an active volcano.
You have probably guessed it by now, Mount Popa plays an important role in Burmese culture and history. Even before the arrival of Buddhism in the country, the site was and still is one of the most revered in the country. Its shrine is dedicated to the worship of the 37 Nats, the Burmese ancient animist spirits.
Thousands and thousands of pilgrims visit the volcano each year. It gets even livelier during the full moon of Nayon (May/June) and Nadaw (November/December) festivals. Make sure not to bring meat (especially) or wear any black or red clothing. You do not want to offend the resident nats up there.
Learn more about the spirits as you journey your way up the stairs. You are not forced to, but make the climb up to the mountain top. The view overlooking the Myingyan Plaini is mighty impressive. It’s up to you though.
Southwest of Mount Popa is Taung Kalat. A Buddhist monastery is located at the top of it. The view of the monastery from the ground below is quite impressive. But so is the view from up there. Again, some stair climbing is involved. Again a great view is your reward.
Continue in direction of Salay, known today as an important center of Buddhism with many active monasteries. Throughout its past, Salay created its own unique style of Bagan-era architecture and you can see one of the nicest and oldest wooden monastery halls at Yok Sone Kyaung monastery.
Step into an exotic realm that not many have experienced before. This is Myanmar. And what if you want to have an in depth experience at one of Myanmar’s location? See if any of our day trips fulfill your need for an in depth Burmese experience.
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