After spending seven weeks at Bodh Gaya, the Buddha walked to 'Isipattana Migadaya', the deer park at Sarnath, to convert the five ascetics who had left him when he went to Bodh Gaya.
Modern Sarnath is almost a suburb of the holy Hindu city of Varanasi. The most striking monument at Sarnath is the Dhamekh Stupa, built on the spot where legend has it the Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dhamma. Also found here are the ruins of an ancient monastery and the remains of an Ashokan pillar. Near the ruins of the monastery and stupa is Mulagandhakuti Vihara, a temple dedicated to Amagarika Dharmapala, founder of the Mahabodhi Society.
In the streets around the temple there are a number of foreign temples and the Sarnath Museum. The museum has some of the finest Buddhist artworks to be found in India, including the famous carving of four lions sitting back-to-back representing the lion's roar of the Buddha Dhamma that topped the Ashokan pillar. The carving has become the state crest of India. Among the many stone statues of the Buddha in the museum is a magnificent seated image of the Buddha in the dharmacakra mudra (the teaching mudra) from the Gupta Period (4th-6th Century) when Sarnath was a leading center of Buddhist art and learning.
The museum should not be missed. Photography is forbidden in the museum.
the Dhamekh Stupa
the Dhamekh Stupa with
monastery ruins in foreground