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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Day Trips from Bagan

Mt Popa.

popaMt Popa, 48 kilometres south east of Bagan is an extinct volcano that rises 2417 feet above the northern plains. On top of this striking tower lies the most important ‘Nat’ (Spirit) shrine in Myanmar. The mountain is the abode of the powerful ‘Nat’ known as the Popa Goddess, or Popa Mother. She is considered to be kinder than most spirits and is the protector of women. At the base of the mountain is a shrine to the Lord of the Mountain. He is the protector of the house or town. He and his sister, Lady Golden Face protect the Tharaba Gate in Bagan.

The complex of shrines is accessed by a 25 minute climb (watch out for the monkeys) and there are panoramic views from the top. Tradition says you should avoid wearing red or black on the mountain as this may offend the resident spirits. Festivals take place here throughout the year; timing your visit to coincide with one would be a very interesting experience. Mt Popa lies within a National Park and there are hiking and horse riding opportunities in the area.
The road journey to Mt Popa from Bagan passes several villages typical of the region. The farms produce dry country crops such as peanuts and sesame, the fields ploughed by water buffalo. You can stop along the way to see the production of palm sugar balls and try some of the local ‘toddy’.

Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange trips to Mt Popa from Bagan. We suggest combining a visit here with Salay (below) or an afternoon of pagoda visits in the Bagan archaeological zone. If you are travelling Myanmar by car Mt Popa can also be visited en-route between Bagan and Kalaw. If you would like to hike or horse ride we can arrange an overnight stay for you here at the Popa Mountain Resort. An overnight stay would also allow you to explore the area in the relative cool of the evening and early in the morning, before day trippers arrive from Bagan.

Salay

Salay, located 36 kilometres south of Bagan on the bank of Ayeyarwady River is a very interesting town of 7000 inhabitants. There are some 103 monuments and pagodas in the area dating back to the 12th Century, and the town has been a monastic centre (there are now some 50 monasteries) since the 19th Century. The monastery of Sasanayaunggyi is a popular stop. There are also many faded buildings left over from the British colonial period.

Highlights.

Youqson Monastery.
Dating from 1882 this historic teak monastery is on the tentative world heritage list. The outside of the building boasts detailed original carvings of scenes from the Jataka and Ramayana. There are also carved scenes of ordinary people going about their daily lives. There are more Bagan-era carvings on show inside the building.

Temple 99.
This 13th Century shrine about a mile to the south of Salay features hundreds of painted scenes of the Jataka (stories of the Buddha’s past lives).

Payathonzu.
This is a trio of Indian-style Buddhist temples (Temples 18,19 and 20) best known for their murals and views over the area.

Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange day tours in the Bagan area that include a half day tour of Salay. Alternatively, you can combine a visit to Salay with a visit to Mt Popa by air-conditioned car to create a full day excursion from your hotel in Bagan.

 

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