Sarnath is an ancient city located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, about 13 km north-east of the city of Varanasi.
Sarnath is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world, as it is the place where the Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Stupa.
Sarnath is also famous for its rich collection of Buddhist art and architecture, including the Dhamekh Stupa and the Ashoka Pillar.
History of Sarnath:
Sarnath has a long and rich history, dating back to the 6th century BCE. It was a major center of trade and commerce in ancient India, located on the banks of the Ganges River, which was a major transportation route at the time.
It is believed that Sarnath was part of the Kashi kingdom, one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) of ancient India.
In 528 BCE, the Buddha visited Sarnath for the first time, and gave his first sermon to his five disciples, known as the ‘Deer Park Discourse.’ The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, which became the foundation of Buddhism, and the Eightfold Path, which is the path to enlightenment.
Over the centuries, Sarnath became an important center of Buddhist learning and culture, and many monasteries and temples were built there. In the 3rd century BCE, the Mauryan emperor Ashoka visited Sarnath and built the famous Ashoka Pillar, which bears an inscription that promotes non-violence and religious tolerance.
In the 7th century CE, Sarnath was sacked by Muslim invaders, and it fell into decline. The ruins of the ancient city were later rediscovered by British archaeologists in the 19th century.
Today, Sarnath is a major tourist destination for Buddhists and other travelers who come to see the ancient ruins and the many Buddhist temples and monasteries that have been built in the area.
The Dhamekh Stupa, which dates back to the 5th century CE, is one of the most famous landmarks in Sarnath, and is believed to mark the spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon.
Other notable attractions in Sarnath include the Mulagandha Kuti Vihar, which is a modern Buddhist temple built in the 20th century, the Sarnath Museum, which contains a large collection of Buddhist artifacts and art, and the Chaukhandi Stupa.
Sarnath is a place of great historical and cultural significance, not just for Buddhists, but for all those interested in ancient Indian history and architecture.
Its rich heritage and monuments serve as a reminder of the great intellectual and spiritual achievements of ancient India, and continue to inspire people from all over the world to this day.