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Introducing Sarnath

Best time to visit : October to March
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Sarnath is one of the most visited tourist places in Uttar Pradesh and is located about 11 km. north-east of Varanasi. It has become iconic with the name of Gautama Buddha as he first preached Dharma here in Deer Park. Also called as Isipathana, Sarnath is a temple city very close to the Hindu religious hub Varanasi. Sarnath features popular spots that are later discussed in this travel guide. Array of temples recently built here reflect architectural marvels of Thai, Burmese, Korean, Chinese, Tibetan and also Japanese origin. The serene atmosphere and pious ambience makes it a perfect place for meditation. One can enjoy a peaceful retreat away from the bustling city life. Tourists simply love to stroll around the vibrant gardens and Sarnath's ruins. The city bears a lovely amalgamation of historical, religious and archaeological significance. This tourist guide will further give you interesting tourist information of this revered place.

Facts

Sarnath is one of the 4 places in the Buddhist circuit apart from Bodhgaya, Kushinagar and Lumbini (Nepal). The name ‘Sarnath’ has been derived from Saranganatha (God of Deer). The main languages spoken here are Hindi and English. Some important festivities of Sarnath are Buddha Purnima (April –May), Chatth Puja (in March and November), and Anniversary of Buddha’s First Sermon (July-August). Sarnath is near to Singhpur which is the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the 11th Tirthankara of Jainism. Buddha came here to preach his message after achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya. His famous first sermon was given to a small group of followers in deer park marking the initiation of Buddhist Sangha. King Ashoka, an ardent follower of Buddhism had built majestic stupas and monasteries in the 3rd century BC. Buddhism started declining and later Muslim invaders destroyed and vandalized the city’s buildings. Sarnath was rediscovered in 1835 by the British archaeologists.

Sarnath mostly has vegetarian eateries with some non-veg serving places too. Some restaurants offer authentic South Indian food. Anand Restaurant, Rangoli Garden, Mrigdav Restaurant etc. are some of the most popular eateries here. Friends Corner is a Tibetan restaurant serving lip smacking dumplings and Green Hut restaurant opposite the Museum serving variety of Chicken dishes.

Sarnath shops have religious items in the souvenir shops. Tourists usually buy the Ashta-dhatu or the eight metal image of Lord Buddha. You also get saffron robes, worshipping beads, rosary and rugs.

Nearby Places:
Post sightseeing in Sarnath, you can visit the nearby places enlisted below:

  • Varanasi: Stands at only about 11 km. from Sarnath, Varanasi (Kashi/Benaras) is one of the prime Hindu pilgrimage centres with an array of temples, museums, forts, the holy Ganges River and many more attractions. Aarti (Prayers) on the ghat of River Ganges and of course the boat rides are of special significance. Hindus believe that performing the last rites of the deceased in this holy city gives ultimate peace to the soul.
  • Chunar: This place is about 40 km. away from Sarnath and renowned for its polished sandstone. The fort in the north of the Kaimur Hills, overlooking the Ganges and has historical significance associated with Sher Shah Suri, the Nawab of Avadh, Warren Hastings and the Mughal emperor Akbar. The local shops here sell unique sandstone items.
  • Bodhgaya: It takes around 3 hours 40 minutes to reach Bodhgaya (in Bihar) from Sarnath. Located at a distance of about 260 km., this place also holds special significance for Buddhists as Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment here. 

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