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Sarnath, Varanasi

 Buddha preached his companions his first sermon, explaining the Four Noble Truths and eight Fold Noble Path in a park called the "Deer Park" which later came to be known as 'Sarnath'. Sarnath which is about 9kms away from the Banaras city has become a premier centre for Buddhism. Emperor Ashoka after famous Kalinga war was touched by the misery of the people and he got converted to Buddhism. He built two stupas - the Dhameka (or Dharma Chakra) and the Dharmajajika at Sarnath. The famous Ashoka Pillar with the lion capital at the top has become the national emblem of India. It is now kept inside the Sarnath Museum. Inside the museum various poses of Buddha, carved beautifully, stare at the onlooker. The most famous one is of the Buddha, sitting cross-legged, with his hands in a teaching pose, eyes downcast, half shut in meditation. Below the seat, on which he sits is the wheel (chakra) and the six kneeling figures. Sarnath has a very big Buddha temple, built in 1931A.D, by the Indian Maha Bodhi society. Built on the ruins of the monasteries, it is popularly called Mulagandhakuti Vihara and is the main shrine at Sarnath. It has a very large image of Buddha, along with some sacred relics. Besides these, there is a series of exquisite wall paintings, depicting the birth of Buddha.










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