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The Holy Sarnath Temple

Aside from the Ganges River and the surrounding chaos of Varanasi City, Sarnath Temple is a noteworthy destination for intrepid travelers.

Sarnath Temple

Sarnath is a city situated 13km north of Varanasi. I initially had no intentions of visiting this temple, but an American tourist that just checked-in told us about the significance of the temple in Sarnath. 

For every Buddhist a pilgrimage to India is a must. After Buddha gained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, he went to Sarnath. In the temple premises, Buddha delivered his first sermon.

There are quite a few significant remains of stupas in the temple complex such as the Dhamek, Dharmarajika, and Chaukhandi Stupas. These stupas are hundreds of years old which add to their allure and mystique.

There were devotees making offerings and giving thanks to Buddha during our visit. Devotees from Buddhist countries visit Sarnath for pilgrimage purposes.

There were intricate carvings on some of the stupas in the temple complex. It was quite chilly and foggy, which made the complex more mysterious as fog wrapped its fingers around some of the remaining structures. The first sermon delivered by Buddha to five monks was called Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.

There was also a deer park and a few other temples near the main temple complex. It was the first time I saw an actual deer in person, yehey! <feigned enthusiasm>.

Some wise words to live by:

The area around Sarnath Temple is a welcome relief from the hustle, bustle, and craziness of Varanasi. The atmosphere around the temple was completely different compared to the city and the Ganges, it was more peaceful, a perfect place to unwind and meditate. In my opinion, a visit to Sarnath isn't a must, unless you are a devoted Buddhist or really interested in ancient history and religions. If your schedule is tight, there are plenty of other temples and ruins all over India, so you won't miss out on much.

*There is an entrance fee of INR 100 to enter Sarnath Temple. We rented an auto-rickshaw to get to the temple. It was somewhere around INR 400 round way.

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