Located about 10 kilometers in the northeast direction of Varanasi, Sarnath is the place where Gautama Buddha had first preached a group of disciples. This is also the very place where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna - a king who became the follower of Lord Buddha.
Sarnath takes its name from Sarangnath also referred to as the Deer God. The city is also known as Isipatana and has been regarded as one of the four sites of pilgrimage by Lord Buddha himself. Thus, if you are someone who prefers quiet places; and want to be somewhere you can contemplate as well as know the great history of India, then, Sarnath is the place to be at.
Best Time to Visit Sarnath
If you are wondering about a good time to plan a trip to this place then October to March are considered the best months to visit Sarnath. It is best to avoid visiting here from April to October as the area experiences scorching heat and it becomes difficult to explore. One may also want to consider the various festivals celebrated here which fill the area with the colors and chants of spirituality while marking out dates. Some of these are Buddha Poornima (May), and Maha Shivaratri (February- March)
History of Sarnath
Buddha came to Sarnath for the purpose of preaching his message of enlightenment and nirvana. He even gave his first sermon at the deer park. And it was to propel this message of dharma that the Great Emperor Ashoka built multiple stupas and monasteries here.
Apart from being a prominent Buddhist destination, Sarnath also serves as a prominent religious place for Jains as it is considered to be the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the Eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism. There is even a temple dedicated to him in Sarnath.
The Muslim Invasions
Close to the 10th and 12th centuries, India took the heat of multiple Muslim invasions in which the country's heritage was destroyed a great deal. The invaders also looted the locals and then killed them. As a result of these invasions, Sarnath was left in crumbles and almost disappeared from the face of the Indian map, and then, it was in the 19th century that Sarnath revived for its historical significance, by a few British archaeologists. After that, Sarnath came out as a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site.
Major Attractions In And Around Sarnath
1. Chaukhandi Stupa
This stupa was built in the 5th century to mark the place where Lord Buddha first met his disciples. Due to this, it holds a great historical and architectural significance.
2. Ashoka Pillar
Ashoka Pillar, which is also the national emblem of our country, was crafted by the great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. It stands at a height of 50 m along with Dhamek Stupa. On a visit, you can see a number of monks meditating in the compound.
3. Tibetan Temple
The Buddhist shrine is decorated with Thangkas (Tibetian Buddhist Paintings) and the temple features a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha as well. The prayer wheels can be seen outside the temple building. On moving them clockwise, paper scrolls with prayers written on them are released.
How to Reach Sarnath
Sarnath is a place for spiritual seekers in the city of Varanasi. In Sarnath, you will be finding the remnants of the lost legacy of the Bhagwan Buddha. Sarnath is located at a distance of 847, 1,838, 1,490, 673 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kolkata. Here is how you can reach here by the following means of transportation.
If you are planning a trip via flight then deboard at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport (VNS), Varanasi. From there Sarnath is located at an approximate distance of 20-25 km. To cover this distance you will need to take a cab or some other means of transportation.
Here is a list of Indian cities from where flights are available to Sarnath
Sarnath has its own train junction and is well connected by Varanasi and Gorakhpur. You can take the connecting trains and deboard at the station of Sarnath. After deboarding the train, you will need to cover the remaining distance by some means of public transportation.
You can also reach here by road. Sarnath is fairly well connected by road networks. To cover the distance, you can hire a cab or a bus. Otherwise, you can also travel in your own car or any other vehicle of your choice.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sarnath
Q. What are the main tourist attractions in Sarnath?
A. The main tourist attractions in Sarnath include the Dhamekh Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa,Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath Museum,Mulagandhakuti Vihar, and Thai Temple.