Sarnath is a famous place in Varanasi and it is the destination for cultures like Hindu, Buddha and Jain. Sarnath is the place where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma then Buddhist Sangha has originated as well as came into existence because of the enlightenment of Kondanna. It is situated atleast 13 Km to north-east of Varanasi. There is a village 1 km away from the Sarnath known as the Singhpur where Shreyansanath was born. He was known as the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism. This is why the sarnath is also an important pilgrimage site for Jainism.
Buddha has mentioned the Isipatana as one of the four places of pilgrimage which is most visited by his devout followers.
Origin of great names in Sarnath:
Mrigadava was named because of deer-park in sarnath. Isipatana was named because holy men have landed here. The devas rose into air and disappeared, only their sound fell on ground. It is believed that Pacceka Buddhas have spent their seven days in contemplation in the Gandhamādana and took bathe in the Anotatta Lake. After taking bathe in the lake he came to the habitations of men by the air. They came to earth at Isipatana through the air.
The Deer Park in the Sarnath was forest and gifted by the king of Benares for the purpose where deer might wander unmolested. Sarnath originated from Saranganath known as the “Lord of the Deer”. This park is still exists there today.
History of Gautama Buddha at Isipatana
The Gautam Buddha went from Bodhgaya to Sarnath after 5 weeks of his enlightenment. Before attaining his enlightenment, the Gautam has given up the Pañcavaggiya monks to his austere penances and friends then he left them and went to the Isipatana.
He enlightened five former companions using his spiritual powers as they were able to understand Dharma quickly. It is believed that he had to cross the Gange through air because he had no money to pay the ferryman. The Gautam Buddha had given his sermon to five monks known as his first sermon and called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. He spent his first rainy season at the Mulagandhakuti of sarnath. The Buddha Sangha or community had grown from 5 to 60 in number. They sent by Buddha to all corner of the world to travel alone in order to teach the Dharma to people.
There are many other suttas preached by the Buddha at Isipatana besides the Dhammacakkappavattana, some of them are:
- The Anattalakkhana Sutta
- The Saccavibhanga Sutta
- The Panca Sutta
- The Rathakara or Pacetana Sutta
- The two Pasa Suttas
- The Samaya Sutta
- The Katuviya Sutta
- The Metteyyapanha of the Parayana
- The Dhammadinna Sutta
It is believed that, there is an ancient well at Isipatana which was used by the monks to live at the Buddha’s time.
Buddhism is flourishes in Sarnath because of kings and other wealthy merchants live in Varanasi. Sarnath had become a great center of arts by the third century. In the 7th century, it was noted that 30 monasteries and 3000 monks were founded at Sarnath.
Sarnath is famous because it has became a major centre of earliest Sammatiya school of Buddhism. At Sarnath, the image of Lord Shiva and Brahma were found. A Jain temple is located at Chandrapuri close to the Dhamekh Stupa.
Legendary characteristics of Isipatana
According to the Legends, it is believed that all the Buddhas of Buddha Sangha had preached their first sermon at the Isipatana. Isipatana is known by different names such as Khema-uyyāna and etc. Many of the ancient buildings were damaged by Turks but still an impressive Dhamek Stupa of 128 feet height and 93 feet diameter is stand at sarnath. The Chaukhandi Stupa and ruins of the Mulagandhakuti vihara denotes that Buddha met his first disciples and he spent his first rainy season respectively.
The modern Mulagandhakuti Vihara has beautiful wall paintings and cute deers are still to be seen there. The original Ashoka Pillar stands there surmounted by Lion Capital of Asoka but it was broken during Turk invasions. It has became the India’s National Emblem and national symbol of our flag.
Sarnath also known as Isipatana, is one of the four pilgrimage sites where Gautama Buddha has been designated. The other three are Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya, and Lumbini.
Sarnath has become a pilgrimage place in Varanasi for Buddhists of all over the world. In some countries the Buddhism has become dominant religion. Some of them are Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka etc.
Things to see at Sarnath
Sarnath is the most historical and Buddhist holy place in the Varanasi, popular among tourists for tourism for various religions like Buddhist, Jainism and Hinduism. It has so peaceful, clean and calm environment which provides lots of mind and body relaxation. It can be felt like a new world of heaven on the earth, totally away from the rush, dust and crowd. Sarnath is an amazing place having lots of things to see. Some of them are mentioned below:
Chaukhandi Stupa is the place where Lord Buddha met his 5 disciples first in Sarnath. It is considered that he came to Sarnath after getting enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in 528 BCE to meet his disciples Mahanama, Koudanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa and Asvajita in order to share his real knowledge got during enlightenment. Chaukhandi Stupa is situated at 13 km from Varanasi. It was built of brick like octagonal tower during 4th to 6th century in the Gupta period. It was little bit restructured by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the year 1588 to memorize in future the shelter of Humayun at Sarnath.
Dhamekh Stupa is the place where Lord Buddha had given his first conversation of Dharma. It is made up of brick in a solid and cylindrical shape of height 43.6 m and diameter of 28 m. It was founded by the king Ashoka in the 249 BCE. It was rebuilt during 5th century when modifications were added. It is also called as the Dharma Chakra Stupa. This stupa contains 8 niches having images of Lord Buddha.
Dharmarajika Stupa is the very significant place located near to the Dhamekh Stupa. It is considered that this place has the remains of bones of the Lord Buddha. It was built by the King Ashoka which was destroyed in 1794 by the Jagat Singh (to get bricks for another construction purpose) during which a box with bones was found. The box is still kept safely at the Indian Museum, Kolkata. It is considered as the bones were disposed off in Ganga by the Jagat Singh.
There is a famous Archaeological Museum at the Sarnath built for placing and protecting the historical things very safely as an ancient antique. It is located near to the archaeological ruins across the road. It has various ancient objects from the Buddhist arts, images of Hindu Gods and etc. It consists of the five galleries and two varandah. It is strictly prohibited to have photography inside museum to keep secret the historical things. It opens at 10.00 am in the morning till 5.00 pm in the evening from Saturday to Thursday.
Ashoka Pillar is the great thing to see at Sarnath, located amidst the ruins. It is structured representing broken stone cylinders. Actually these are considered as the remnants of the real Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath. Ashoka was a great Mauryan emperor who had constructed various pillars after his name all over the India. Originally these are having height of 12.25 m and diameter of 0.71 m base, 0.56 m top having Lion Capital (four back to back lions). Each of the Ashoka Pillars has Ashoka Chakra at the top which was broken by the Turk invasions. Broken Ashoka Pillars and fragments of the Ashoka Chakra were founded in 1904 during mining and digging at the Sarnath. The Lion Capital is still kept safely for the exhibition purpose at the Sarnath Archaeological Museum.
Mulagandhakuti Vihara Buddhist temple
The Mulagandhakuti Vihara Buddhist temple at Sarnath is one of the temples built by the Sri Lankan Mahabodhi Society in 1931. It is the place where Lord Buddha had spent his first rainy season. It has religious and significant historical objects from Buddha time found in Taxila, exhibited annually on the Karthik Purnima celebration. The walls of this temple have beautiful frescoes depicting the life of the Buddha.
It is located near to the Mulagandhakuti Vihara Buddhist temple, called as the holy Bodhi vriksha. It is the most holy place for the people of Buddhist religion as Lord Buddha had attained his enlightenment here beneath the tree. It is planted at the Sarnath by the founder of Maha Bodhi Society of India (Sri Devamitta Dhammapala) on 12th of November in 1931 by taking a branch from the real Sri Maha Bodhi tree of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.
Ruins of Mulagandhakuti Vihara
It is the place where ruins of the Mulagandhakuti Vihara are found at Sarnath representing various ancient culture and tradition of Buddhism during 200 BCE. It is believed that during the Gupta period, around 3,000 monks were lived in these monasteries located closer to the Dhammeka Stupa.
Nichigai Suzan Horinji Temple/Japanese temple
The Nichigai Suzan Horinji Temple is one of the Japanese temples located at Sarnath. This is a very nice temple of great importance to the Buddhism.
Migadawun Myanmar Temple
Migadawon Myanmar Temple is one of the earliest Buddhist Temples located at near to the Deer Park (means Migadava) at Saranath. It was built in the month of February in 1908. In February 2008 it had celebrated the Anniversary after completing 100 Years.
A big Buddha Statue is located at the Thai Buddha vihara of height 80 ft. It is considered as the tallest standing Buddha statue at Sarnath. It was built originally of stone over 14 years during the Indo-Thai joint effort.
Sri Digamber Jain Temple
Sri Digamber Jain Temple is located near to the Dhamekh Stupa. It is the most religious place for the Digambara monasticism which is a branch of the Jain Dharma.
Burmese Buddhist Temple
The Burmese Buddhist Temple at Sarnath is a holy destination for the Buddhism, located at west side of Deer Park. It was built in the 1910 following the ancient Buddhist tradition, Theravada.
Deer park is a very beautiful Park for the Deer at Sarnath. It has very clean, calm and peaceful environment to meditate or rest for long hours.
How to Reach to Sarnath
Sarnath, Varanasi is a religious place where anyone can reach simply without any problems by the road. One can reach to the Varanasi city by road, by plane and by train as it is well connected through all the lines.
One can reach to the Varanasi Airport (Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport Babatpur Varanasi) which is located just 24 km away from the Sarnath. From the Airport, one can reach to the Sarnath by bus, auto, taxi or other personal means.
One can reach to the Varanasi major railway station called Varanasi Cantt from any city of the India. Varanasi Cantt. is located at just 10 km from the Sarnath where one can reach by the rickshaw, auto, taxi or other personal means.
One can reach to the Varanasi bus station through bus from any nearest city. One can reach to the Sarnath from the bus station by rickshaw, auto, taxi or other personal means.
By taxi or Auto rickshaw
One can reach to the Sarnath from any corner of the Varanasi by taxi or auto rickshaw. Sarnath is located at 15.9 km distance from the BHU campus which takes around 30 mins to reach, 15.3 km distance from the Ramnagar Fort which takes around 27 mins to reach and 10 km from railway station which takes around 15 mins to reach.
It is the beautiful image of the notebook like big stone written the history of the Dhamekh Stupa. It was written in the 6th – 7th century. This circular stoned body was made up of the Mauryan bricks.
What a beautiful and attractive image of the Mulagandhakuti vihara, a Buddhist temple at the Sarnath. It is the very special place where Lord Buddha had spent his first rainy season. Now it has been rebuilt in the 1930s by the Sri Lankan Mahabodhi Society to maintain this historical monument. The modernized Mulagandhakuti Vihara has very beautiful wall paintings. In the back of this temple there is a very naturally organized Deer Park where deer are seen wandering.
Shri Digambar Jain Temple
What an attractive look of the Shri Digambar Jain temple located at Sarnath. It has very nice, fresh and natural environment having very beautiful gardens on both sides. People come here to see the natural historical monuments at Sarnath.
This is the main entry gate of the Shri Digambar Jain temple at Sarnath. What a natural scenery it has. Devotees and travelers come regularly here from all over the India as well as outside the country to see this natural monument in the Varanasi. Some people are enjoying their great time at the entry gate.
Temple of the Tibetan community
What a nice photo of the temple of the Tibetan community located at the Sarnath. It has beautifully organized entry gate having two nice Dwarpal on both side. Both side of the entry gate has written some information in the Hindi and Tibet language. Some people with their children are coming outside of the entry gate after seeing the Tibetan community temple.
This is the inside view of the temple of the Tibetan community. It is the main temple, Tibetan Buddhist monastery, located inside the main entry gate. Both side of the temple has beautifully organized gardens. A traveler is seen taking the snapshot of the temple.
This is the very inside view of the Tibetan Buddhist monastery, well designed and beautifully decorated. IT has the collection of many historical things. Devotees are sitting inside the temple and praying. One of the travelers is taking their snapshot from the side.
This the great picture of the Ashoka wheel located in the circle having 24 sticks. A huge photo of the Lord Buddha is located behind the wheel. Both side of the wheel has nice looking greenery scenes. A well lighting system is there to give an amazing look to the scene at night.
This is also the picture of the Ashoka wheel taken from another side. It is decorated with the lots of beautiful flowers in well organized manner. Surroundings greenery enhances its beautifulness.
This is the picture of the Buddha statue located in the Sarnath. It is very big statue of the Lord Buddha looking very attractive and beautiful. It is a solid body made up of a stone structured by the architecture. Devotees are around the statue and looking at the statue.
This is also the picture of the Lord Buddha taken from long distance to capture the natural scenes around. People are enjoying the scene by wandering all around.
This is the much closer view of the photo of the Lord Buddha taken to show the natural beauty of the statue and art of the architecture.
This is the side view picture of the Buddha temple taken to show the sidewise natural looking of the scene. One of the travelers sits in the garden to have some shadow and rest. People are wandering inside the temple to have full pleasure.
This is the picture of the Lord Buddha temple located inside the Sarnath. A small pond full of water enhances its beautifulness. It has nice looking environment and greenery scenes.
This is also the one part of the Lord Buddha temple located in the Sarnath. It is very beautifully organized temple looking very attractive and amazing.
This is the picture of the Lord Buddha located inside the Buddha temple at Sarnath. What a nice looking image made up of the stone and wrapped in the yellow cloth. There are some flowers in the feet of the Buddha offered by the devotees.
This is the picture of the Ashokan Pillar located at Sarnath. It is netted with the net for security purpose. Back side of the pillar has historical monuments.
This is the image of the stone notepad in the side of the Ashokan Pillar written the history of the Ashokan Pillar. This Ashokan Pillar was created by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka using Chunar Sand stone.
This is the side view of the Buddha temple located at Sarnath showing the natural scenes of the nature. People are enjoying the beautifulness of the temple.
This is the amazingly looking photo of the Lord Buddha inside the Buddha temple. A golden statue of the Lord Buddha is looking very attractive and so natural. This statue is located beneath the Pepal tree inside a temple looking structure. One of the statue is showing meditation and another one giving blessings to the devotees.
This is another pic of the Buddha temple with the long statue of the Lord Buddha in the side at Sarnath. What an amazing look of the greeneries in the surroundings.
This is the pic of the Dhamek Stupa taken from long distance to have other small historical monuments of the time of Lord Buddha. Travelers are wandering inside the surrounding area to seen the historical monuments and their importance.
This is also the pic of the Dhamek Stupa taken from side to have the look of other small historical monuments.
This is the pic of the real small monuments of the time of Lord Buddha. These monuments are real and as it were without any changes.
It is a monumental railing made up of the Chunar sandstone and discovered by the Mr. Oertel during digging in 1904 and 1905. It measures around 2.54m in length.
This is the picture of the Dhamek Stupa taken from small distance to have accurate view of this historical monument.
This is the picture of the Mulagandha Kuti located at Sarnath, Varanasi. Mulagandha Kuti history is written on the stone notebook to have real ideas of it.
This is also the image of the Mulagandha Kuti taken from much closer to have clear look of the history. This is the place where Lord Buddha was used of meditating.
This is the picture of the newly built structure at Sarnath showing the Buddha temple behind it. Regular working is continue at this place to add attraction.
This is the pic captured to show the real art of that time. It is full of natural look and greenery scenes.
Chaukhandi stupa sarnath
This is another view of the Chaukhandi Stupa at Sarnath showing that travelers are enjoying here by seeing the real and natural beauty of this Stupa. They are capturing the snapshots of this historical stupa to memorize their tour in future.
This is the entry gate to the Chaukhandi Stupa at Sarnath. A board in front of Chaukhandi Stupa, written Archaeological Survey of India.
Lots of foreign tourists are wandering in the surroundings of the Sarnath. They are using umbrella to get prevented from the summer heat.
This is the picture of the Shreyansanath at Sarnath, Varanasi. He was 11th Jain Tirthankara. He was a Siddha means a liberated soul. He was the son of King, Vishnu and Queen, Vishnu Devi from Sinhpuri (near Sarnath at Ikshvaku clan). According to the Indian calendar, he was born on 12th day in the Krishna Paksha of the Phalgun month.
Shreyansanath statue at Sarnath. People related to the Jain religion are deep believers of their 11th Tirthankara.
This is the picture of the Dharamshala at Sarnath, Varanasi. It is built to fulfill the purpose of providing shelter to the travelers came to visit Sarnath.