Taung Kalat is a volcanic plug that rises dramatically above the southwestern slope of Mount Popa, a stratovolcano that last erupted in 442 BCE. Mount Popa is the abode of Burma's most powerful spirits, known as Nats. The Buddhist monastery, seen here on the peak of the 737-metre Taung Kalat, is reached via 777 steps. At the base of the Taung Kalat Shrine are statues depicting the 37 Mahagiri Nats.
Mount Popa is a popular pilgrim destination on the full moon of Nayon (May/June) and Nadaw (November/December). Residents from the nearby town of Kyaukpadaung hike the mountain en masse in December and during the Thingyan Festival of the Burmese New Year. (Brian K. Smith photo.)
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