Sarnath was visited by Lord Buddha, following his accomplishment of enlightenment in Bodh Gaya. The Wheel of Law, that is, Lord Buddha gave his initial discourse here, in the Deer Park. Sarnath was incorporated by Buddha, the day prior to his passing away, along with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar as the four locations, which are supposed to be holy for his disciples.
Around the time period of 234 BC, Sarnath was visited by Emperor Ashoka. A stupa was constructed by him here. Between the time period of 3rd century BC and 11th century AD, construction of numerous structures related to Buddhism took place here.
The distance between Sarnath and the sacred city of Varanasi is a mere 10 Kms. One can see many historical remains and relics in and around Sarnath, such as the infamous Ashoka Pillar and relics of other architectures constructed by Buddha.
During the time of its splendor, Sarnath was a principal seat of learning for Buddhism. The lime light came over Sarnath when the Sri Lankan government and governments of Japan and other several countries took interests in this location and thus constructed many memorials and places of worship linked to Buddhism.
One can visit some contemporary structures such as the temple of Burmese, Chinese, Korean, Tibetan, Japanese and Thai.
PLACES TO SEE
Chaukhandi Stupa: The first glimpse of any structure, which the visitors get while coming to Sarnath, is this stupa of Chaukhandi. A tower in the shape of an octagon encircles the square shaped edifice. The structure is basically a mighty heap of bricks. It is believed that the initial structure has been constructed by none other than Emperor Ashoka.
Dhamek Stupa: The Dhamek Stupa in a cylindrical stupa is the most spectacular architecture that one can see in Sarnath. The diameter of the structure at the bottom measures 28 meters and the altitude of it are 43.6 meters. The structure has been constructed with stone as well as bricks. The flower-patterned carvings, which are located on the stone situated on the lower portion, dates back to the time of Gupta rule.
Mulagandha Kuti Vihar: The Mahabodhi Society constructed this recent structure. One can see for themselves the spectacular Fresco works done by Kosetsu Nosu, who is the leading painter of Japan. This modern temple has been built in the midst of the relics of Sarnath.
Sarnath Museum: Many a number of Buddha and Bodhisattva paintings and other sculptures related to Buddhism was discovered in Sarnath. These spectacular art items have been put into the display of the museum for the visitors to see.
Modern Reception Centre, Sarnath: A Modern Reception Centre is located just opposite to the Sarnath Museum. This centre contains all facilities for visitors such as Restaurants, Food Plaza, Money Changer, ATM, Souvenir shops, shops selling books, guides and rest rooms with AC facilities and many such places at one place.
HOW TO REACH SARNATH
By air: Babatpur is the closest air terminal, which is located at a distance of 30 Kms from Sarnath.
By rail: Trains links Sarnath to Varanasi directly.
By road: Other major locations of the state are linked to Sarnath via good and well maintained road system.