Buddhist pilgrimage is never complete without a trip to Sarnath. Lord
Buddha, after being enlightened at Bodhgaya, travelled to Sarnath to preach
his message. It is Sarnath where he delivered his first sermon to his
disciples and adherents. The site is considered to be one of the most
significant Buddhist sites as it is the place from where the Buddhist
teaching began its journey. There are four most important Buddhist sites in
the country. Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha is ranks the first while
Bodhgaya, where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, happens to be the second
most sacred Buddhist site. Sarnath is the third name on the list, having
distinction as the site where Buddha made his first discourse in 528 BC. And
the fourth site is Kushinara in the state of Uttar Pardesh. Kushinara or
Kashia is the site where Lord Budhha left for his final abode.
Location & Climate
The town of Sarnath lies 12 km north of Varanasi or Benaras in the state of
Uttar Pradesh. The town, which is an accumulation of stupas, pillars and
monasteries, is established against the tranquil backdrop of the Deer Park.
Sarnath lies close to the Tropic of Cancer. Summers are hot while winters
are pleasant. During summers, temperature may shoot up to a maximum of 45
degrees Centigrade. The ideal time to visit the time is between October and
The town of Sarnath offers a great deal in terms of Buddhist sites.
Followers and adherents of Buddhism from across the globe flock to the town
to quench their thirst for Buddhism and Buddhist teachings. The popular
attractions at Sarnath are as follows.
» Ashoka Pillar :
The Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath is
one of the most famous Buddhist sites in the whole world. The huge pillar
was founded by Maurya emperor Ashoka during the 3rd century BC. A four-lion
symbol surmounts the pillar. It stands as a prominent symbol of Buddhism.
This particular symbol is today the national emblem of the Republic of
» Mulagandha Kuti Vihar :
A recent addition, the
Mulagandha Kuti Vihar was built in 1931 by the Mahabodhi Society. A huge
Japanese bell decorates the entranceway of the vihara while the walls and
ceilings have been embellished with exquisite carvings, paintings and murals
done by a Japanese artist Kosetsu Nosu. A life-size image of Lord Buddha is
kept in the temple.
» Choukhandi Stupa :
The Choukhandi Stupa stands on
a rectangular pedestal and is capped by an octagonal tower built bu Mughal
emperor Akbar to commemorate his father's visit here. The ruins of the stupa
date back to the Gupta period. It is the site where Lord Buddha came across
with his five disciples who had deserted him earlier.
» Dhamarajika Stupa :
Dhamarajika Stupa is yet
another worth seeing site at Sarnath. This stupa too belongs to the Gupta
period and was built by the emperor Ashoka himself. However, the stupa lies
in a state of desertion today and only its ruins can be seen.
Varanasi, lying close to Sarnath, is the perfect option for staying. The
city has numerous luxury and budget class hotels catering to different
classes of tourists. Popular hotels of Varanasi are as follows.
Hotels in Sarnath
¤ Taj Ganges (Five Star)
¤ Hotel Clark (Five Star)
¤ Radisson Hotel (Four Star)
¤ Hotel Varanasi Ashok (Four Star)
¤ Hindustan International (Four Star)
¤ Hotel De Paris (Three Star)
Babatpur Airport of Varanasi (12 km) is the nearest airport from Sarnath.
The airport has flight to/ from places like Kathmandu, Delhi, Agra and
Mumbai. Varanasi is the closest railhead from Sarnath. It is connected to
the key destinations of the country. Road route too is well established. The
city of Varanasi lies on National Highway 29.