To enter Sarnath at dawn is to discover the serene beauty and captivating sound of a huge Japanese bell. The first landmark to catch attention is Chaukhandi, an elevated structure of brick with an octagonal top which represents the ruins of a stupa. About half a kilometer away on the Sarnath road is the ancient deer park, where Buddha delivered his first ever sermon on the meaning of life. This event marks the setting of the Wheel of Law into Motion (Dharma Chakra Pravartana). Half a kilometer north is a gigantic structure of stone and brick, called Dhamekh stupa. The lower portion of this tall cylindrical stupa has fine floral carvings. It houses a stone slab with Buddhist inscriptions on it, dating back to the 6th century B.C.. The sprawling green lawns around it provide the right environ to meditating monks.
The main excavation site is a vast expansion of low lying structures, and standing amidst them one can view the facets of history, its interesting turns and twists, the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms. One can witness the ancient pieces of Buddhist art performed to communicate the message of the Buddha through signs and symbols. The earliest and most important relic is found in the Ashoka pillar, erected in 250 B.C.., Four lions representing the spirit of India are sitting back to back with a wheel between them. The original piece is in the Sarnath archaeological museum. As one explores the open complex of ruins, one finds that monasteries date back to different periods of construction, reflecting different sects of Buddhism. Kumar Devi was a Buddhist queen of Kanauj, who built perhaps the last of the great monasteries. Remnants of its basement and halls are visible here.
In the close vicinity of ruins, one can see Mulagandhakuti Vihara, a temple constructed by Dhammapala, a devout Buddhist. Believers from different countries have built temples, each one unique in architecture. Life in each of these temples, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Sikkimese or Burmese, revolves around cleaning the temple, meditating, reading holy books, teaching and offering food to the needy. While many tourist groups stay in Varanasi and commute to Sarnath, a large number still prefers to stay in the modest dharamashalas of the temples. Maha Boddha is an active society here which is being developed as a learning centre of Buddhism. Many Buddhistcouples from Japan and other south east countries come down here, often in chartered flights with their families and friends, to get married in traditional Buddhist style.
The ruins of Sarnath attracts about 190,000 Indians & 60, 000 overseas tourists
each year, By AIR:
Nearest airport is Varanasi, 32 kms from
Sarnath & is linked to Delhi. Regular Indian Airlines & Sahara flights between
Varanasi & Delhi.
Sarnath is on National Highway 29 and is a 45 minutes
drive from Varanasi.
Varanasi is the nearest rail junction.
Where to stay
Taj Ganges, Hotel Varanasi Ashok, Clarks Hotel, Hotel De Paris, UP Tourist Bungalow
Birla Rest House, UP State Tourist Bungalow & many dharamashalas.
Related Tour Packages & Informations