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MOUNT POPA

Mount Popa in Myanmar is a popular destination for visitors to the country. About an hour away from Pagan, Mount Popa is a forest-clad landmark, rising over 1,500 metres above sea level. Pilgrims have been visiting the shrine here for over 700 years, climbing 777 winding steps to pay their respects to realistic, carved figures, denoting ancient gods.

Mount Popa is an extinct volcano which is believed to be home to the 'nats', ancient Burmese animist spirits. Climb to the top for stunning views of the surrounding countryside, The area is often referred to as the oasis of the dry zone, with quite different weather to Pagan, and you will often see the local farmers climbing palms and tapping off the toddy juice to make sugar. Mount Popa in Myanmar is frequented by Burmese pilgrims.

Location
The volcano can be found in central Burma. It is about 30 miles or 50 km to the southeast of Bagan. This is at the Pegu Range. It can be seen from the River Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) as far away as 60 km (37 mi) in clear weather. Mount Popa is perhaps best known for the nearby stunningly picturesque Popa Taungkalat monastery atop an outcrop. You can easily get there by private car or taxi.

What to See
The best known feature of the area is the Popa Taungkalat monastery. The shrine is home to the Mahagiri Nats. There are 37 of these. You will see these figures at the foundation of the shrine.

During ancient times, kings would consult them when making important decisions. 777 steps have to be climbed to reach the peak. Expect to see some monkeys in the area as well. Those that go to Taung Kalat will get to savor a lovely vista of the area. From the top you can see Bagan city. The Taung Ma-gyi peak is visible on the north. The area around the volcano has some 200 streams and hot springs. The entire area is filled with stunted trees and prickly bushes.

History
The volcano has an elevation of 1,518 m (4,980 ft). The volcano itself is made up of basaltic andesite lava flows and basalt. Scoriaceous material and pyroclastic deposits also comprise it. These materials are believed to have emanated from the strombolian eruptions.

Mount Popa in Myanmar has a 0.85 km (0.53 mi) deep and 1.6 km (0.99 mi) wide caldera. This was formed out of the collapse of the volcanic slopes. At the caldera breach on the north is a 3 km3 (0.72 cu mi) debris. It spans an area 27 km2 (10 sq mi). The peak time is during the season on the full moon of Nayon (May/June). Hikers also frequent the site in April when the Thingyan festival is held. 

(Source: LuxuryPrivateTravel.com INC)
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