In the Footsteps of the Buddha

Sarnath in India is famous primarily as the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon to his five disciples after attaining Nirvana. It is located in Uttar Pradesh nearly 10 km from Varanasi. Considered to be the birthplace of Buddhism this small town is today trotted from Buddhist followers from throughout the world.

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Dhamek Stupa

I took an auto from Varanasi to go to Sarnath and on reaching there I was greeted by scores of people from Thailand, Japan, Korea and othe Buddhist countries. The entry fees are also nominal. And did I forget to mention that this place is also famous for the original Ashok Pillar having the four lions which is the national emblem of India. So to see it I first went to the Sarnath museum where it is housed along with other major relics of that era. The Lion Capital is in the museum whereas the rest of the Pillar in fragments is found in the ruins. The Museum is made in the design of a Buddhist monastery and tourist guides in foreign language are also available. After spending an hour there I went to the famed Dhamek Stupa. This is where the fragment of the Ashokan pillar is still there. The entire park is dotted with ruins and relics of the period of Buddha. It is believed that the bones of Gautam Buddha were buried here. There is also a huge Bodhi tree with statue of Gautam Buddha and his five disciples. As per Buddhist beliefs this is the exact spot where Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon to his five disciples laying the foundation of Buddhism. There are also other relics such as the Prayer Hall which is believed where Buddha sat for meditation.

Moving from there I also visited the Chaukhandi Stupa, another important Stupa.  I saw a modern shining temple in Sarnath. On asking I came to know that it is the Tibetian Temple . Built in the typical Tibetian monastery style, it houses the Tibetan Style of paintings and Prayer Wheels. Nearby another stop that I made next is the Mulagandha Kutir, the place where Buddha spent his first rainy season. There is a golden statue of Buddha inside the prayer hall and on the entrance a huge bell donated by Japan. The entire walls is decorated with frescoes depicting the life of Gautam Buddha.

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My final stop was the Thai temple. The main attraction was a huge standing statue of Gautam Buddha. The temple is built in the typical Thai architecture and was sponsored by Thai dignitaries who visited Sarnath in 1993. Set amidst in lush gardens Buddha is here in Bhumisparsha mode (touching the ground).

As the sun was setting and turning golden yellow I found myself at peace. I found Buddha everywhere in Sarnath and my heart reverberated “Buddham Saranam Gachami.”

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