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Sarnath :: City Information

Sarnath - weather

Best Travel Duration

In Summer: 45 C (Max) - 37 C (Min)
In winter: 20 C (Max) - 10 C (Min)

October to March

About Sarnath

There are four geographically important places in the life of Buddha: Where he was born (Lumbini, Nepal), where he gained enlightenment (Bodh Gaya, India), where he gave his first sermon (Sarnath, India) and where he left his mortal body (Kushinager, India).

Buddhist worldwide look upon India as the land of the Buddha and a visit to this country means a pilgrimage to those place sacred to the memory of the Enlightened one.

After the Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to Sarnath. Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra Pravartan). The Emperor Ashoka (c 304 - 232 BC), who spread the Buddha's message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC, and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail. Sarnath is 10 km from the holy city of Varanasi, and is an exceedingly tranquil place. The ruins, the museum and temple are all within walking distance.

We will see a number of Stupas, excavated ruins of monasteries, the deer park where Buddha gave his first sermon and the Ashoka Pillar with the four-sided lions head, which is India's National Emblem at Sarnath museum. In the Sarnath Museum, we will see a rich collection of Buddhist sculptures comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images, considered amongst the finest specimens of Buddhist art. Feel free to walk around (clock-wise) the great Stupa, or if you are feeling energetic, do the whole thing - walk around it 108 times.

The Mulagandha Kuti Vihar is a modern temple erected by the Mahabodhi Society. It has excellent frescoes by Kosetsu Nosu Japan's foremost painter and is a rich repository of Buddhist literature. Also see the bodhi tree whose sapling was brought from a tree in Sri Lanka, which in turn originated from the original tree under which Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya and gained enlightenment 2,500 years ago.

Places to Visit

DHAMEKHA STUPA

Description: DHAMEKHA STUPA

This is the most conspicuous structure at Sarnath. From the top of the stupa a stone tablet with an inscription “Dharmekha” was found which points out that this is the spot where the Buddha delivered his first sermon. Dhamekha seems to be a distorted form of Dharma Chakra which means turning the wheel of the Dharma. It is also believed that at this place the five ascetics who left Gautama Buddha in Bodh Gaya used to live in huts. The original stupa was constructed by Ashoka. It was expanded and enlarged several times upto the 12th century CE. The structures here were destroyed by repeated invasions - and by gradual neglect - and what are seen today are the results of repeated reconstruction efforts. The present size of the stupa is 31.3 m high and 28.3 m in diameter. The lower portion of the stupa is covered completely with beautifully carved stones. The stones in each layer are bound together by iron clamps. This tower dates back to the Gupta period.

ASHOK PILLAR

Description: ASHOK PILLAR

This pillar records the visit of Emperor Ashoka to Sarnath, in the 3rd century BC. The lion symbolises both Ashoks's imperial rule and the kingship of the Buddha. The four-lion capital was adopted as the emblem of the modern Indian republic.

MULAGANDHA KUTI VIHAR

Description: MULAGANDHA KUTI VIHAR

This is a modern temple built by the Mahabodhi society in 1931. The entrance of the vihara, is dominated by a huge bell, a gift from Japan, and the interior contains a beautiful life-size golden image of the Buddha, and colourful murals and frescoes painted by a Japanese artist Kosetsu Nosu. One can also see the bodhi tree whose sapling was brought from a tree in Sri Lanka, which in turn originated from the original tree under which Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya and gained enlightenment 2,500 years ago.

How To Get To Sarnath

By Air:

 

The nearest airport is Babatpur 30 km away from where one can take daily flights to Delhi, Calcutta, Bhubaneswar, Kathmandu, and Patna.

By Road:

 

Sarnath is 9.6 km by road from Varanasi, and is linked by road. We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.

By Rail:

 

Sarnath is a halt on the Northern Railway network and several of the trains, which cross Varanasi, stop here. From Varanasi direct trains are available for almost all the major cities of India.