Situated about 10 kms away from Varanasi is Sarnath where Buddha preached his first sermon after he had attained enlightenment at Bodhgaya. A lot has changed since then, but the ancient aura is still retained in the ruins and gardens seen here. More importantly, at the museum in Sarnath is the Ashoke Pillar with its four guardian lions that has been used as independent India's national emblem. Sarnath must be visited for the tranquility that is its hallmark.
Varanasi is usually the stopover point for Sarnath and most tourists stay in Varanasi. However, Sarnath does have a Tourist Bungalow, Tel. (0542) 42002, 42515 and a Birla Rest House.
Chaukhandi Stupa: Chaukhandi Stupa where Buddha met his five disciples. The lower part was built by Ashoka and the upper portion which is dome-shaped, was constructed by the Mughal emperor, Akbar.
Moolgandha Kutir Vihara: Houses the ruins of the old Vihara. Lord Buddha used to meditate and give sermons to his disciples here.
Dhamarajika Stupa: Dhamarajika Stupa was built by Ashoka. Only the ruins of the foundation can been seen now.
Ekasma Vatika: Situated south of Moolgandha Kutir, was built by Ashoka. It is 2.45 m high and wide and made out of one stone block.
Ashok Pillar: Located south of the main temple, is a 2.63 m high structure, which originally is believed to have been 17.75 m high. The upper part of the broken pillar is kept in the museum.
Dhamek Stupa: This is a round shaped structure which is 28.35 m wide and 39.01 m high. Exquisite carvings cover it from top to bottom which show signs of Gupta architectural style. Stone scriptures reveal that it was known as Dharma Chakra Stupa: This is where Buddha instructed his first five disciples about the five-fold path.
Moolgandha Kutir Vihara: The main temple devoted to Buddha, was constructed in 1935. It houses an imposing statue of Buddha in Dharma Chakra Parivartan form. The walls show the life story of Buddha in different colors.
Statues of Buddha & His Five Disciples: Situated east of Moolgandha Vihara, houses stone statues of Buddha and his first five disciples. They were designed and constructed by a Burmese monk, Yumand Chariya, in 1989.
Deer Park: Is a recent construction and was built on the Buddhist concept that Buddha was incarnated as a deer. Today, hundreds of deers can be seen in their natural habitat.
Digambar Jain Temple: Dedicated to the 11th Jain Tirthankar. A temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira.
Bodhi Tree: Near Moolgandha Kutir Vihara, is a banyan tree, the saplings of which are believed to have been brought from the famous Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapur, Sri Lanka, by one of Buddha's famous disciples, Dharmapala.
Indian Archaeological Museum: Constructed in 1910, houses the rare statues and remains found at Sarnath after excavations.