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.  

Monuments:

Dhamek Stupa: It is one of the most visited Buddhist structures in the world as it is believed to be the exact spot where Buddha delivered his first sermon.

Chaukhandi Stupa: It is another revered Buddhist structure. The place holds immense significance as Buddha is said to have met his disciples for the first time at this location. 

Ashok Pillar Sarnath: This stone pillar is a national emblem of India and is a mark of Emperor Ashoka’s visit to Sarnath.

Mulagandha Kuti Vihar: This Buddhist Monastery was built by the donations of the International Buddhist Community. It is run by the Mahabodhi Society. The building is extremely beautiful and the interior is covered in painting depicting Buddha’s life and also a golden statue of Buddha.

One must also visit Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, a bright, beautiful and colourful monastery where one can even stay overnight. Chinese Buddhist Temple is another pretty temple in Sarnath, it’s main feature is the representation of the life of Budhha through pictures write-ups in Chinese, English and Hindi on a huge board. The atmosphere of this place is dipped in serenity and peace. One who wants to meditate must visit the sublime Japanese Temple, the architecture reflects the Japanese style of temple construction and is pleasing to the eyes. The temple houses a wooden Buddha statue in reclining position.

Digambar Jain Temple: Sarnath is not only a Buddhist pilgrimage point but also a pilgrimage point for Jains too as the 13th Tirthankara of Jainism was born in a village close to Sarnath. This Temple was built in his remembrance. The path to this beautiful temple is lined with plants and greenery and must be visited.

Natural Places:

Garden of Spiritual Wisdom can be termed as a nature lover’s paradise. It’s a beautifully maintained garden with a separate section for herbal plants. The soothing atmosphere can prove to be an effective stress buster. Another park that is highly popular with the tourists is the “Deer Park”. It is believed to be the spot where Budhha proclaimed “Dharma”. Wildlife enthusiasts must visit Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Food:

Sarnath is a city in North India and one can taste variety of North Indian food here. There are various food stations that serve Chinese cuisine too.

Activities:

Archaeological And Excavation Area is an historic place maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The place must be visited by those who are interested in Buddhist relics. The excavation areas are marked so you can know how interesting they were in their time. It houses a wonderful collection of artefacts and coins that were excavated. A trip to this museum can definitely please the history buff in you. One can go on a road trip to Chunar and visit the famous Chunar Fort. the holy town of Varanasi can also be visited to get drenched in spirituality.

Shopping:

While at Sarnath one may buy miniature metal religious statues. Handicraft items can be bought from “Lundo Varma Handicraft”. To buy silk fabric one must visit “Sarnath Silk Handicraft”.  “Dharma Shopping Complex” is a shopping mall from where day to day items can be purchased.