Sarnath reveals itself to be a pleasant place punctuated with ruins and shrines. It is closely associated with the life of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It is one of the four holy sites of Buddhism.
After attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha visited Sarnath to preach his first sermon. That first sermon paved the way for Buddhism. Later, the emperor Ashoka erected some amazing monasteries and spectacular stupas here in the 3rd century. Sarnath once boasted of possessing a stupa that was a 100 meters high. However, this glory has been lost to the ravages of time when the popularity of Buddhism declined. Later, Muslim invaders sacked and looted the city stripping its beauty further. Now, the ruins stand, a proud reminder of its former beauty.
How to Get There
By Air :
The nearest International Airport is Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi, It is well connected to the cities like Delhi, Gaya, Kathmandu, Khajuraho, Lucknow and Mumbai.
By Rail :
The nearest major station is Varanasi Cantt. which is connected to most major cities in the country. Sarnath does have a small train station.
By Road :
The roads of Sarnath connects all the places in Uttar Pradesh. Both deluxe and state buses are frequently available at the nearest distance to and from Sarnath for the tourists.
The Dhamek Stupa stands peacefully surrounded by ruins of monasteries of a bygone era. The stupa was built over the spot where Gautama Buddha gave his very first sermon. The Dhamek Stupa is quite beautiful makes the place seem all the more peaceful. Some parts of the stupa seem to have been constructed in 200 BC while the spectacular carvings date back the 5th century AD. The carvings are quite beautiful and depict geometric and floral patterns.
Chaukhandi is a beautiful stupa that was built sometime in the 5the century and now lies mostly in ruins. However, you can still enjoy its former beauty that shines through the ruins. Chaukhandi was built over the location where Gautama Buddha met the people who would become his very first disciples. There is also a splendid tower here which seems oddly out of place. The tower was constructed by the Mughals to commemorate a visit by the emperor Humayun.
Mulagandha Kuti Vihar
The Mulagandha Kuti Vihar is a modern temple having been built in the year 1931. You can listen to the first sermon of Gautama Buddha that is chanted on a daily basis here. Outside the temple there is a beautiful Bodhi tree whose history is quite fascinating. The tree was transplanted from the Bodhi tree that grows in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. That Bodhi tree, in turn, is believed to be the offspring of the legendary Bodhi tree of Bodhgaya under which the Buddha found enlightenment.
The Ashoka Pillar used to be a magnificent structure that was created in the 3rd century. However, it was unable to withstand the ravages of time and invaders and now lies in ruins. An edict had been engraved on the pillar which is still visible. However, the grandeur of the pillar has been lost as only the base of the pillar remains.