Buddhist monastery on Taung Kalat by Matt Penfold

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Buddhist monastery on Taung Kalat by 

This Buddhist monastery on Taung Kalat (meaning pedestal hill) is Southwest of Mount Popa Burma (Myanmar), The site is atop a precipitous volcanic plug and is accessed via a 777 step stairway. The Taung Kalat is often erroneously referred to as Mount Popa.
This photo was taken from the Mount Popa Resort. Mount Popa is the name of the volcano which is sometimes called the Mount Olympus of Burma because many of the locally revered Mahagiri Nats (spirits) are said to reside there. At the base of the Taung Kalat is a shrine containing effigies of all 37 Nats.
Many families of cheeky macaque monkeys inhabit the Talung Kalat, the monastery and the surrounding region.
During our entire stay in Burma the sky was hazy and the atmosphere dry and dusty, the plains behind the Talung Kalat were barely visible and this image required a bit of fiddling to reduce the haze.

Canon EOS450D EF 75-300mm
ISO200 1/250s f/10 f=300mm

The image below is from the same place shot at f=130mm


buddhist, burma, eyecare project, monastery, mount popa, myanmar, nat, pedestal hill, taung kalat


  • lianne
    lianneover 4 years ago

    Matt this is just spectacular – one can see almost the possibilities of “detachment” from the world, can’t you? Wow! Just an incredible view!

  • Thanks Lianne, seeing this place really does conjure up that sort of impression and I guess in the past that’s how it would have felt. This is a very popular mecca for the Burmese people because of the significance of the various Nats who reside here, as a result it’s busy and bustling and detachment seems right out of the question, still, from a distance it’s an awesome and moving sight :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • yolanda
    yolandaover 4 years ago

    Stunning . . .the monasteries there are incredible. My cousin was in Bhutan and he visited and took pics of some amazing ones perched on the side of mountains.

  • Thanks Yolanda, they really are incredible, we also went to Bagan where there are numerous stupas, pagodas and temples dating back as far as the eleventh century :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • Cosimo Piro
    Cosimo Piroover 4 years ago

    You have got to be kidding me….WOW….this is awesome!

  • Thanks Cos, we saw some really amazing sights :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • Hugh Fathers
    Hugh Fathersover 4 years ago

    Fantastic!! . . .

  • Thanks Hugh :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • Solar Zorra
    Solar Zorraover 4 years ago

    This is simply amazing, I’ll bet it took your breath away at first glance. So glad you made it back safely Matt Matt. Looks like you surely had an awesome adventure. :) Solar

  • Thank you Sol Sol, you’re right about that, it is one of those sort of places that has an immediate visual impact, even after the constant bombardment of seeing numerous unusual sights during a 160km (100mile) bus trip that took seven hours… :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • Barbara Cliff
    Barbara Cliffover 4 years ago

    An amazing sight and capture Matt, I guess you’ve got to be pretty fit to visit. Just imagine building the monastery up there—way back whenever —talk about dedicated. Rather like the little I know of Buddhism. Glad you found time to take pics. Its definitely a favourite

  • Thanks Barbara, yep I was sweating like a pig by the time I reached the top. it really is quite a remarkable thing to build that in such a location but I’m sure they couldn’t resist, every peak or hill seems to have a pagoda or stupa or a monastery. Many were built in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and I’m still trying to find out when this one was built but I’d say it was a long time ago as it’s has quite a deal of significance to the Burmese people :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • Lisa  Jewell
    Lisa Jewellover 4 years ago

    Such an unbelievable sight, I would have fallen to the ground in awe…brilliant capture Matt…x

  • Thanks Lisa, it really is awe inspiring, we had to take off our shoes to walk up there too :-) x

    – Matt Penfold

  • Roz Fayette
    Roz Fayetteover 4 years ago


  • Thanks Roz :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • Andrew  Bailey
    Andrew Baileyover 4 years ago

    Superb Matt. Just superb.

  • Thank you Andrew, much appreciated :-)

    – Matt Penfold

  • nadine henley
    nadine henleyover 4 years ago

    what a stunning place! great shot, matt – must have been such an interesting place to visit.

  • It was an incredibly interesting place to visit and I felt really privileged to be able to see so much of the reality of it by working and travelling with Burmese people. Thanks so much Nadine :-)

    – Matt Penfold

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