Mt Popa, an oasis in the dryland

Mt Popa, an oasis in the dryland

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Just 46 kilometre from Bagan to the south is a green land within the dry zone – Mt Popa, an extinct volcano rising about 1,500 meters above sea level. The area’s richness in water sources and fertile soil thus has earned the mountain itself and the surrounding areas an oasis of the dryland since the area is very green and fresh-giving with many blossoms of zagawa, the symbolic yellow flower of Popa.

The peak of the volcano can be reached through a four-hour-long trek but most visitors and local pilgrims only go up 777 steps along a stairway to reach the top of a pedestal hill, a sheer-sided volcanic plug, called the Taungkalet, from where, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the whole area around Mt Popa and, if it’s a fine day, the distant temples of Bagan and the Ayeyarwaddy River as well.

Mt Popa is also said to be Myanmar’s equivalent of Mt Olympus as it is a centre of the country’s centuries-old tradition of worshipping “nats” (spirits).