Bagan – Mount Popa (and Monkeys!)
We started our second day in Bagan with a visit to Mount Popa. Located about an hour from Bagan, Mount Popa is an volcano plug (formed by nearby extinct volcano Mount Popa) that rises 4981 feet above sea level. At the top of the mountain is the Popa Taungkalat (Taung Kalat) Shrine (Buddhist monastery).
To get to the top you have to climb 777 steps (without shoes or socks) dodging hundreds of monkey’s who seem to be guarding the mountain. In reality they are there to take food away from you, that is if you’re foolish enough to be eating on the way up the mountain. Otherwise they don’t seem to bother you too bad (even though I’ve read where they have taken cameras and purses).
Also at the top of the mountain are thought to be 37 Mahagiri Nats or spirit entities. It is believed that “Nats” are something that have been worshiped for years before Buddhism arrived to Myanmar (Burma). The specific belief in the 37 Nats (on Mount Popa) was founded by King Anawrahta (1044–1077) of Bagan. However after Buddhism arrived to Burma the “Nats” belief merged with Buddhism.
A shrine that has statues of the 37 most important Nats, all wearing very colorful clothing. It is thought that these Nats (once humans) had suffered violent deaths (see below).
Even with all the trouble of climbing 777 steps and dodging monkeys – the views at the top are worth it! Also check out the photos and videos at the bottom of the page.
Gallery – Mount Popa
(Click any Image for Full Screen View / Controls Located Across Bottom)