A day trip from Bagan to the Popa Taungkalat Monastery. The monestery has a spectacular site, covering the flat top of a steep mountain. The mountain, Taung Kalat (Pedestal Hill), is a volcanic plug near Mount Popa Volcano, with its steep sides rising 737 meters (2417 feet) above the flat plain.
Mount Popa is the home of several Nats, Nats are spirits, often residing in natural places or trees. They predate Buddhism in Myanmar. Each family had a family Nat, and a shrine on the main southeast post of the house. King Anawrahta of Bagan (1044 - 1077!), after failing to enforce a ban on Nat worship, designated an official pantheon of 37 Nats. Many of these are humans who met violent deaths. These Nats are depicted in Shwezigon Pagoda near Bagan (see my photos elsewhere) in positions of worshipping the Buddha, and have thus been brought into Buddhism. (Source: Wikipedia 1/2012.)
To me, many of the statues of the Nats near Mount Popa reminded me of Hindu Gods.
On the way to Mount Popa, we stopped at a peanut farm and sampled their palm toddy.