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Sarnath is known and revered the world over as one of the sacred and prominent Buddhist pilgrimage destination. Located at a distance of around 10 kms from the holy city of Varanasi, Sarnath was graced by the first post –enlightenment sermon of Lord Buddha about 2,500 years ago. The Dharamachakra Pravartan and the Sanga-an ancient tradition of popularizing the Buddhist teachings was set in motion from this very site, starting from the first sermon delivered to the five disciples.
The first Sangha comprising of five disciples and 54 friends as well as the Buddhist mantra ‘Buddham Sharanam Gacchami originated from Sarnath. Along with Bodhgaya, Sarnath constitutes an integral part of Buddhist pilgrimage.
Several historical monuments and ruins stands today as a testimony to its glorious past. Dhamekh Stupa measuring 42 meters is one such monument and so are Dharmajajika Stupa and Mulgandha-kuti Temple, the latter one according to Chinese philosopher Hieun Tsang was about 61meters in height. Emperor Ashoka, regarded as the next prominent name in Buddhism after Lord Buddha also visited and constructed most of the monuments. The Ashoka pillar stands today to commemorate his first visit after conversion to Buddhism.
Places of interest :-
Excavations at the site unearthed several ancient sculptures comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images. Regarded as the finest example of Buddhist art, these remains are now put up on display at the museum adjacent to the site. Some other famous attractions include:
Mulugadha Kuti Vihar
A relatively modern temple, it was erected by the Mahabodhi Society. The temple exhibits excellent frescoes representing Buddhist traditions done by Japan’s foremost painter Kosetsu Nosu.
Comprising of a lofty mound of brick with an octagonal tower surrounding the square edifice, Chaukandi stupa is believed to have been built by Emperor Ashoka and is the first monument encountered during the entry to Sanath.
This cylindrical Dhamek Stupa measuring 28 mts in diameter at the base and 43.6 mts in height is the most remarkable structure at Sarnath. Delicate floral carvings adorn the lower part and the monument is built by partly of stone and partly of brick.