Mount Popa is an extinct volcano that has become a famous place of superstitious pilgrimage. That’s right. Here we have do have to distinguish between traditional Buddhism and what is, or at least seems, plain superstition.
We go way back. Back to before the prince transformed into the almighty Buddha. Before Buddha became the centre of the Myanmar belief system, 37 deceased princes, princesses and other elite members of society suffered tragic and excruciating deaths. The chaotic and infernal circumstances of their passing, inevitably, created vile spirits (nats) that you can be sure will do their very best to haunt you – if you don’t respect and donate food to them. If you believe in them, that is.
Mount Popa is the home of the nats.
Apart from the regular rituals believers perform on a daily basis in order to keep these spirits satisfied, an annual pilgrimage to Mount Popa is considered prudent by locals.
There is quite an army of macaque monkeys here, though, and you better make sure you don’t carry any clusters of bananas with you, if you would be so inclined.
Mount Popa is blessed with a mild climate as it is situated at an altitude of 1518 metres. You can find lots of fresh fruit here and take it with you back to the dry plains of Bagan, which is only 50 kilometres away and thus makes Mount Popa an easy day trip if you have been templed out by Bagan’s vast number of religious monuments.