Sarnath is one of the four most-visited Buddhist pilgrimages of North East India located at 6 Kms north of Benares in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh near the highway to Ghazipur.Other three pilgrimage centres are the birthplace of Buddha - Lumbini, second is place where he attained Enlightenment - Buddha Gaya, fourth is Kushinara or Kashi in Uttar Pradesh, where he finally gave up his mortal self. It is said that in search of his companions Lord Buddha walked from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath in order to meet the five ascetics. During his visits and stay in Sarnath, a number of legends are associated with the life history of Lord Buddha, out of which the legend of Deer Park is very popular. The Buddhist temples at Sarnath are the contribution of Buddhist countries like China, Tibet, Japan and many other countries
Buddhist Temples at Sarnath
It was at Sarnath Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his disciples for whom he left Bodh Gaya. In this sermon he had preached the middle path of attaining the "Nirvana" that avoids the extremes of pleasure and austerity, the four noble truths and the eightfold path. In 3rd Century BC when Ashoka realized the sanctity of the site of Sarnath, he built one of the rarest monuments. However, the main Buddhist temple located at Sarnath is Mulagandhakuti Vihar which is 110 feet high with an image of Buddha inside it decorated with carved sandstone railing inside the temple. The temples of other countries are also located at nearby areas like temples of China, Burma and Jain temples.
Other Attractions near Sarnath
Besides, the famous Buddhist temple, the pilgrimage to Sarnath offers various other specimens of Buddhist art and culture which are found in its Museum which has credited for the rich collection of sculptures, artifacts and edifices, figures and sculptures from the Mauryan, the Kushana and the Gupta periods. The Ashoka Lion capital or the Sarnath lion capital is the national symbol of India which is believed to symbolize different steps of Lord Buddha's life. Broadly speaking, two interpretations - the religious and non-religious - are made on this National Symbol of India, one interpretation corresponds to the Buddha's way of life and other corresponds to the inherent power of Ashoka the Great. A number of monasteries is located at Sarnath like Chaukhandi Stupa, Dhamekh Stupa, Dharmrajika Stupa, Digambar Jain temple etc.