Only 10 km. north-east of Varanasi, the most holy of Hindu cities, is Sarnath, one of the major Buddhist centres. Having achieved enlightenment at Bodhgaya, the Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his message of the middle way to final nirvana. Later, Ashoka erected magnificent stupas and monasteries. The city was known as the Deer Park, after the Buddha's famous first sermon, The Sermon in the Deer Park. Dhamekh Stupa : This 34-metre-high stupa has geometrical and floral patterns. Main Shrine and Ashoka Pillar : Ashoka is said to have meditated in the building known as the 'main shrine'. Standing in front of the main shrine is the Ashoka pillar. An edict issued by Ashoka is engraved on the column and below this are representations of a lion, elephant, horse and bull.



GETTING THERE AND AWAY From Varanasi, an auto-rickshaw for the 20 minute journey costs Rs.25. For Rs. 40 you could take the afternoon tour from Varanasi which returns via Ram Nagar Fort. There is bus service from Varanasi station to Sarnath for Rs.2 and a few trains stop here. It is easier to get a shared auto-rickshaw from the stand by the Civil Court or from the stands in Lahurabir or Godaulia.

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