Sarnath: There are four geographically important places in the life of Buddha: Where he was born (Lumbini, Nepal), where he gained enlightenment (Bodh Gaya, India), where he gave his first sermon (Sarnath, India) and where he left his mortal body (Kushinager, India).
Buddhist worldwide look upon India as the land of the Buddha and a visit to this country means a pilgrimage to those place sacred to the memory of the Enlightened one.
After the Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to Sarnath. Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra Pravartan). The Emperor Ashoka (c 304 - 232 BC), who spread the Buddha's message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC, and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail. Sarnath is 10 km from the holy city of Varanasi, and is an exceedingly tranquil place. The ruins, the museum and temple are all within walking distance.
Sarnath is now home to India’s tallest statue of Lord Buddha at 80 feet, built in an area of 2.5 acres and consisting of 815 stones.
We will see a number of Stupas, excavated ruins of monasteries, the deer park where Buddha gave his first sermon and the Ashoka Pillar with the four-sided lions head, which is India's National Emblem at Sarnath museum. In the Sarnath Museum, we will see a rich collection of Buddhist sculptures comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images, considered amongst the finest specimens of Buddhist art. Feel free to walk around (clock-wise) the great Stupa, or if you are feeling energetic, do the whole thing - walk around it 108 times.
The Mulagandha Kuti Vihar is a modern temple erected by the Mahabodhi Society. It has excellent frescoes by Kosetsu Nosu Japan's foremost painter and is a rich repository of Buddhist literature. Also see the bodhi tree whose sapling was brought from a tree in Sri Lanka, which in turn originated from the original tree under which Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya and gained enlightenment 2,500 years ago.