Sarnath is located at 13 Km to North-East of Varanasi and is one among the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage centres across the country. Here in Sarnath Lord after enlightenment at bodhgaya, preached his first sermon sacred as Maha Dharm Chakra Parivartan. Because of this belief Sarnath is being worshipped among Buddhists, and other believes as the centre for Buddhism Pilgrimage. Several structures and monuments here have the historical and religious significance. It is believed that Chaukhandi Stupa is the place, where Lord Buddha had met his first five disciples when he visited Sarnath for the first time.
The city consists of various historical archaeological findings also, which increases the importance of Sarnath. The Great Emperor Ashoka (273.232 B.C.) had established the smooth glistening pillar which marks the foundation of the Buddhist Sangha and the Lion Capital atop this pillar, which is India’s National Emblem.
When Lord Buddha visited Sarnath for the first time, he met his first 5 disciples at Chaukhandi Stupa. It is believed that he visited Sarnath post 528 BCE after getting enlightenment at Bodh Gaya to meet his disciples Mahanama, Koudanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa and Asvajita. He met them and shared his knowledge which he had got from enlightenment.
First conversation of Lord Buddha on Dharma was given at Dhamekh Stupa. Stupa was founded in 249 BC by Samrat Ashoka. During 5th century, it was reconstructed and modifications were implemented. It is also known as Dharma Chakra Stupa. The shape of Stupa is solid and cylindrical with height of approx. 43.6 m and diameter of 28 m. Stupa also contains 8 niches having images of Lord Buddha.
Close to Dhamekh Stupa, another treasure of Sarnath is situated named, Dharmarajika Stupa. It was constructed by King Ashoka which was further destroyed in 1794 by Jagat Singh (to use the bricks for other construction purpose) during which, a box with bones was found. It is believed that this box contains the relics of Lord Buddha. At Indian Museum Kolkata, one can find this box, where it has been kept safely. It is considered that the bones were disposed-off in Ganga by Jagat Singh.
To place and preserve the historical and antique things, a famous Archaeological Museum has been constructed at Sarnath. Museum consists of various objects of Buddhist arts, images of Hindu Gods and other ancient things. Museum consist of five Galleries and two Varandahs.
Timing: From 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM. Museum Closes on Friday.
The initial height of the Ashoka pillar was 55 feet. At present, it’s only 7 feet 9 inches. The upper extremity of the Pillar is in the Sarnath Museum, which is also the national symbol of India. Ashoka have ordered in the first article of pillar that if the Monks (Male/Female) will try to break the union or condemn the Sangh, they will be removed from the Sangh by making them wear white clothes. The second article is of Kushan period and the third article is of Gupt Kaal, in which the teachers of the committees’ branch are mentioned.
This tree is situated near Mulagandhakuti Vihara Buddhist temple. This tree is considered to be the holiest place for Buddhist religion. People have faith that under this tree Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment. On November 12, 1931 founder of Maha Bodhi Society of India (Sri Devamitta Dhammapala) had taken a branch from the original Shri Bodhi tree of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and planted it here.
This temple was constructed around the month of February, 1908. In February, 2008 the temple has completed 100 years of its establishment. It is also one among the oldest temples of Buddhism, situated near to Deer Park at Sarnath.
On the west side of Deer Park in Sarnath, Burmese Buddhist Temple is located. It is the holy destination for Buddhist devotees. Huge number of devotees comes here to make wishes and pray. It was built in 1910 following the Buddhist tradition, Theravada.
Sarnath word is derived from Sarangnath or the Deer God. Deer Park (in Sarnath) is the place where Lord Buddha has given his first sermon. As per Huien Tsang, the famous Chinese Monk, development of Deer Park was done by Jataka King, Benaras. The park was constructed mainly for deer so that they can roam here free. The park also consists of an array of bird life. One can spend some liesure time apart from hectic life as atmosphere here is very soothing and relaxing.