One of the four most important Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in India, Sarnath is the site where Lord Buddha – the great sage delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. This marked the foundation of the first Buddhist Sangha or the community of monks. The main teachings after his enlightenment centered on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Then, the Buddhist Sangha had grown to 60 in number.
Buddha then sent the members of the Sangha to preach his teachings all around. The flourish of Buddhism in Sarnath depended on the support of kings and wealthy merchants to a large extent inhabiting the region. Sarnath had flourished as a major center for arts by the 3rd century B.C and the town reached its zenith during the Gupta reign (4th -6th century A.D.) By the end of 7th century, Sarnath had no less than 30 Buddhist Monasteries and home to more than 3000 monks.
Sarnath came to be a major center of the school of Buddhism, the Sammatiya, one of the Nikaya or Hinayana schools. The end of the 12th century saw Sarnath being ransacked by Turkish Muslims. The site was extensively plundered for building materials and has been lying in ruins since then.
Places To Visit
The Dhamekha Stupa:
The Dhamekh Stupa is the most wonderful and massive structure at Sarnath. Built partly in brick and partly in stone, the Dhamekh Stupa is 28 meter in diameter at the base and 43.6 meter in height. The decorative patterns on the trunk of Stupa are mesmerizing. It marks the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. The word Dhamek is a distorted form of Dharma Chakra that means turning the wheel of the Dharma.
How to Reach Sarnath
A great pilgrimage destination Sarnath is well linked to the rest of Uttar Pradesh and India. The place is a hot tourism destination and has a well-maintained infrastructure.
By Air :Varanasi Airport (VNS) at Babatpur is the nearest airport from Sarnath which is 30 km away and it has flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
By Train :Sarnath railway station (SRNT) is connected to Varanasi and Gorakhpur by passenger trains. The nearest station to Sarnath is at Varanasi railway station (BSB) which is about 10 km away and it is well connected to the rest of India by a large number of important trains. There are train from Varanasi to various cities India like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Agra, Lucknow, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Patna and Gaya.
By Road : Distances