Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh

Sarnath, also referred to as Isipatana, lies 10km north-east of Varanasi, where the two rivers, Ganga and Varuna converge.

The deer park in Sarnath is known to be the place where Gautama Buddha first preached Dharma and is one of the 4 cities that Buddha asked his devout followers to visit. It carries the heritage of being the place where Buddha, after attaining enlightenment, delivered his first teaching, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, with the four noble truths.

It also happens to be a holy site for Jains as Singhpur, the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the Eleventh Tirthankara, lies about a kilometre away from Sarnath.

The prominent site of tourist attraction is the Chaukhandi Stupa, commemorating the spot where Buddha first met his five disciples to whom he would go on to deliver teachings This is seen as a significant moment in the history of the religion as it is believed to have to played an important role in evolution of Buddhism.

Another site of great interest is the Ashoka Pillar, installed by the emperor after his visit to Sarnath. The national emblem of India is derived from the top of the pillar, consisting four lions.

The complex housing the pillar happens to also host India’s oldest archaeological museum.The museum has a fascinating array of artefacts from 3rd century BC to 10th century AD on display.

The Thai temple, surrounded by lush gardens, with an architecture strongly reminiscent of the Thai style, is a must visit site if one is looking for peace and serenity.