- Significance : Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon
- Nearby Tourist Places :Varanasi , Kushinagar , Allahabad and Kaushambi
2,500 years ago, an enlightened saint (The Lord) gave his first preach or sermon to the world. The holy place where the Lord Buddha set the (Maha - Dharma - Chakra Pravartan) the "Wheel of Dharma" is Sarnath. This holy land is 10kms away from northeast of Varanasi. The followers and disciples present at the auspicious place on the day where considered first to learned about the path that ends sorrow, lead to inner peace, and ultimate Nirvana. The Lord Buddha in his first sermon, preached about the doctrine of Buddhism along with the four noble truths and eight fold paths at Sarnath. There are many attractions in Sarnath that one must visit for wholesome and pleasurable experience.
The word Sarnath has been derived from Saranganath (Lord of the Deer). After attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, the Lord Buddha visited Sarnath. This place became one of the centers of pilgrimage after the Lord Buddha named Sarnath along with other three to be considered sacred to his followers before his death. Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Lumbini are the other three places considered holy and listed as Buddhist pilgrim centers.
The great emperor, The Ashoka, visited the holy land around 234 BC and constructed a Stupa. He is considered among the first followers who spread the Lord's messages across the Asia during his regime. Furthermore, it is discovered that during the 3rd and 11th century BC many followers and devotees built several Buddhist structures and monuments in Sarnath.
Tourist Attractions in Sarnath
Chaukhandi Stupa :- This is an octagonal tower constructed during the 5th century. The Chaukhandi Stupa is situated on the spot where the Lord Buddha met his first disciples. This Stupa holds a significant place in the history and also for the people exploring ancient historical evidences. Tourists can also visit the nearby attractions such as Dhamek Stupa, Dharmachakra Stupa, and Mulagandhakuti temple. Furthermore, the archeologists near to the Stupa have found the excavations of monasteries, courtyards and verandas.
Thai Temple :- The countries like Japan, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and so on having a large number of Buddhist followers or population have built (contributed) a temple or monastery in Sarnath. Every country has built their own structures in Sarnath that represents their respective architectural style. Among the several temples, monasteries and structures, Thai Temple is the most famous place of worship that is managed by only Thai Buddhist Monk.
Ashoka Pillar :- Ashoka Pillar is also known as Sarnath Pillar. Ashoka Pillar depicts four lions in standing posture and a chakra at its bottom. It has an image of an elephant at the top and a galloping horse and a bull mounted on the bottom of Chakra. The Ashoka Pillar is 50m tall and the most attractive spot for the tourists. The animals symbolize the different phases of the Lord Gautama Buddha. The Elephant stands for his notion, bulls point to his birth, horse denotes his separation from royal life, and lions stand for the attainment of enlightenment. It is the 'must see' place in Sarnath.
Dhamek Stupa :- The Dhamek Stupa is the most imposing structure in Sarnath and is a solid cylindrical tower, 28.50 m in diameter at the base, and 33.53 m height (excluding foundations) or 42.06 m including the foundation of the Stupa. According to an inscription by Pal king Mahipal I (10th century AD), the original name of Dhamek Stupa was DhammacakkaStupa. The Dhamek Stupa is a memorial Stupa to mark the second sermon of Buddha called Anattalakkhana Sutta hearing which all five ascetics attained Arahantship.
Dharmarajika Stupa :- The original Dharmarajika stupa was built by Asoka and was later enlarged in six stages. The original structure was 13.49 meters in diameter but was pulled out by Jagat Singh in 1794 (the minister of Benaras) to take out the bricks for constructing houses of a new township named after him. He found the bodily relics of Buddha and threw them into the river Ganges. This is the only relic stupa of Sarnath, Dhamek being the memorial stupa. This is supposed to be the place where Budhha gave his first sermon (Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta) to the five ascetics.
Mulagandhakuti :- Mulagandhkuti or the first perfumed chamber is the place where Buddha spent his first rainy retreat. It was gifted to Buddha by the rich man named Nandiya. The building is square-shaped, 18.29 m along each side. The mulgandhkuti, according to Hieun Tsang was about 61 m high. The area between the Mulagandhkuti and the Dharmarajika Stupa is believed to be the site where Buddha used to perform his walking meditations or Cankama.
Pancayatna :- The sunken shrine of Pancayatna, near the Dharmarajika stupa, is believed to be the place where Buddha preached the rich man Yash and his followers.
Sarnath Archeological Museum :- This museum has one of the finest collections of ancient Buddhist relics. As part of its exhibition, it houses the renowned Asoka lion capital, the Boddhisattva image, Buddha’s life panels, the preaching Buddha statue, and much more.
Buddhist Temples, Monasteries, and Meditation Centers :- There are numerous Buddhist temples, monasteries, and mediation centers from different Buddhist countries around Sarnath which one must visit. The Buddhist temples include the Burmese temple, the Chinese temple, the Tibetan temple, the Japanese temple, the Korean temple, and the Vietnam temple.
By Air :- The nearest domestic airport is in Varanasi. Varanasi airport is well-connected to the metro cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, etc.
By Rail :- Multiple trains connect to Sarnath and Varanasi that begins from neighboring states of Uttar Pradesh.
By Road :- If you have reached Varanasi, then it takes just a few minutes by a three-wheeler or taxi to cover the 10kms stretch to Sarnath. Furthermore, there are State Transport Buses that heads from all the nearby cities towards Varanasi and Sarnath.