The most popular day trip from Bagan is the drive to Popa Taung Kalat, or Mount Popa as the sheer-sided volcanic plug is more commonly known. Myanmar’s most revered center of nat worship, it is visited in huge numbers by local people, who come to pray at the Mother Spirit shrine at the foot of the hill. Opposite the temple, a flight of covered steps winds up Taung Kalat to a small Buddhist monastery on the summit plateau. From here, stupendous views extend west across the plains of Bagan to the Ayeyarwady and the distant Rakhine- Yoma Hills, and east to the spectacular form of Mount Popa, an extinct volcano with a deep caldera and a cloak of dense forest. Visitors who spend a night at the nearby Popa Mountain Resort will be treated to the vision of the temple’s golden spires illuminated by the first rays of daylight.
Main entrance to Popa Taung Kalat
The entrance to the zaungdan (covered stair way) that winds up the hill is crowned with a seven-tiered ceremonial pyatthat roof tower and flanked by a pair of large white elephants.
37 Mahagiri Nats
The elaborately decorated Mother Spirit shrine at the base of the hill holds life-sized statues of the 37 Mahagiri Nats, or Great Spirit Heroes. Dressed in golden crowns and vibrant silk, the deities are joined by various ogresses, wizards, and necromancers.