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Rising 1,518 meters above sea level, Mount Popa is an extinct volcano covered in forests and is considered one of the most sacred places in Myanmar. Its last recorded eruption happened in 442 BC and is said to have created the huge volcanic outcrop on the lower flank of the mountain that has given way to the name of Popa Taung Kalat.

It's now home to a monastery which sits precariously at the top reached by 777 steps and affords spectacular views across the crater. Popa Taung Kalat is considered the abode of 37 nats, the spirits of Myanmar's animist faith which are historical or legendary figures who suffered tragic deaths and who are now believed to exist as ghosts in places such as forests, mountains, trees and lakes.

The belief in nat worship is older than Buddhism and at the foot of the outcrop sits a small shrine dedicated to these 37 spirits (each one represented by a gaudy, mannequin-like figure), to which pilgrims direct their prayers for success in business, a happy married life and sound health. Ceremonies or pwè are often organized to propitiate the spirits which are said to communicate with people through mediums.

The area is rich in legend as well as natural habitat with an array of trees and plant life thriving in the verdant volcanic soil offering a number of birdwatching and hiking opportunities.

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Map of Mount Popa

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    Places near Mount Popa