I was not so impressed by this site, actually I find quite annoying climb the steps without shoes among macaque monkey excrement all over. The view is amazing but the place itself was not that much for me, definitely I do not consider it a “must see” of Myanmar.
Mt. Popa geologically is a volcano composed of basalt and basaltic andesite lava flows, along with pyroclastic deposits.
A Buddhist monastery is located at the summit of the mountain and Buddhist hermit maintained the stairway of 777 steps to the summit.
From the top can enjoy a panoramic view. The surrounding areas are arid but the Mt. Popa area has many springs and streams. Plenty of trees, plants and herbs grow due to the fertile soil from the volcanic ash.
Mt. Popa is considered the location of the most powerful Nats, spirits, in Myanmar and as such is the most important Nats worship center. Has been also called Myanmar’s Mount Olympus.
Many Burmese pilgrims visit Mt. Popa every year, especially at festival season on the full moon of May/June and the full moon of November/December.
The current popularity of Mt. Popa exemplifies the fact that Burmese people still rely heavily on ancient traditions in daily life. It is these ancient traditions that characterize the culture of the surrounding area and beyond. People travel great distances to assure their good luck into the coming years to Mt. Popa.
Mt. Popa host an annual festival which actually takes place in the temple at the top of the mountain. The festival involves a medium being possessed by a Nat spirit which give him the ability to communicate between the Nats and the people.
The tourist business is booming in Burma, however this new source of income is not propelling the Burmese population to prosperity. It has even been asserted that the government turned to promoting tourism in order to fund the oppression of ethnic minorities.The military junta is utilizing the novelty of the ceremonies being performed on Mt. Popa to entice tourists to visit the religious site without protecting the sites and the local people from the effects of such an increase in tourism.
The town of Kyaukpadaung at the foot of Mt. Popa is a market place around the selling of flowers for worshipers, peanuts for the monkeys that live in the Mt. Popa forests and souvenirs for the tourists.
While the government funds its operations with such tourism it has also quickly become the livelihood of many of the people living near these tourist sites.
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