After achieving enlightenment in Bodhgaya, Buddha came to Sarnath to give his first teaching on the 4 noble truths. Later during king Askoka’s reign a Stupa and Monastery were constructed here. You are still able to see the remains of these today. For more information on the history of Sarnath go to Wikipdia’s Sarnath Page or for a more Buddhist perspective Buddhnets Sarnath Page
Getting To Sarnath
Sarantah is located 3 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, although there is a train station in Sarnath, most trains do not stop there. The easiest way to get there is by auto ricksaw, they are available pre-paid from the main Varanasi Railway station (BSB). The ricksaw ride take between 30min-1 hours from the station dependant on traffic. From Asi Ghat a ricksaw will take around 1 -1 1/2 hours
Dhamekh Stupa and Monastery Ruins(A)
The main feature of Sarnath is of course the site where Buddha gave his first teaching. This also contains the ruins of a monastery that was constructed their during King Ashoka’s reign. Access to the main area is rs100 for foreigners and RS5 for locals. There are also many people who will offer to give you a guided tour of the area, prices for this service vary and can be negotiated on the spot.
The Archaelogical Museum(D)
Located very near to the entrance of the main teaching site is a small but rather interesting museum, the entrance fee is only Rs5 per person (locals and foreigners), however the ticket booth is not located at the entrance to the museum but rather across the street a little(E). Also you will have to hand in cell phones and lighters before entering the museum
Vajra Vidya Monastery(L)
I’m a bit bias because this is one of my teachers monasteries, however it is a really nice example of Tibetan architecture and is a very peaceful place. Note the local Indians refer to Vajra Vidya as “Karmapa Gompa” or “Kargyu Temple” so if you are taking an auto it is best to use those names
The Thai Temple and Giant Buddha statue(R)
This is a really nice monastery with beautiful grounds. The huge Buddha statue is really very impressive
The Jain Temple(H)
I found this very interesting as I knew very little about the Jains. It is an amazing example, the architecture and artwork is truly outstanding
Those are my favorites but other places to visit include:
Mulgandh Kutti Vihar(F)
Maha Bodhi Society(G)
Orgyen Same Chohor Ling Nunnery(S)
Gelugpa Tibetan Monestary(P)
ATM: There is only one is Sarnath and it is often out of money, it is best to go around 9-10am as that is when it is most likely to have money.
Mishras Quickiemart: The best place in Sarnath for you day to day shopping needs, he also sells some pretty tasty cinnamon rolls
The Lassi Shop: This guy really makes nice lassies.
Tushit Internet Cafe and Travel Agent: This is the fastest internet in Sarnath and the only one that has a wireless network. I haven’t used him as a travel agent as I do all my travel stuff as cleartrip and make my trip.
That about sums it up for my guide to Sarnath, please feel free to leave a comment or email me for anything that you would like to see added, or any other way to improve or site.