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Varanasi tourism

The Ganga riverfront spreads over the arc line of 6.4 Km. where lies 84 ghats between the confluences of the Asi in the south and the Varuna in the north. In archetype connotation, each ghat represents one lakh of the organic species as described in Hindu mythologies. Further, 12 zodiacs x 7 layered of atmosphere comes to 84, thus annual cycle of cosmic journey is completed with taking sacred bath at the 84 ghats. At these sacred sights there exist 98 waterfront sacred spots.

The 98 indicates the cosmic frame linking 14 bhuvana kosa of human body and 7 layers between the earth and the heaven, thus the product 14 x 7 comes to 98. Among these ghats five records the power of bestowing special men festive Merit, they are known as panch jal tirth the Kashi khanda refers: Having bathed in the five tirthas a person never again receives a body of five gross elements, rather he becomes the five-faced shiva in Kashi. These five Ghats from south to north are the Assi, Dasasvamedha, Panchganga and Adikeshav.

Gautama Buddha came to Varanasi 2500 years ago, after gaining Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The sermon that he gave at the Deer Park on the outskirts of the city to his five followers, led to the foundation religion that has today spread across the world. This first sermon was called Dharmachakrapravartana or Turning of the Wheel of Law. In it, the Buddha explained the way to end suffering and gain supreme enlightenment of nirvana. today this park is called Sarnath Though only 10 kms away from Varanasi. the two places are a study in contrasts After frenetic Varanasi. Sarnath envelops you in peace. In the time of the Buddha, the place was called Rishipattana or lssipattana after the rishis of sages who came to meditate under its shady trees Its other name was mrigadaya or deer sanctuary, because a king of varanasi had declared the land a sanctuary for deer. The modern name of sarnath is derived From the name of the Bodhisattva saranganatha. The Buddha founded the Sangha or the holy order with his first five disciples. For the next 45 years, the Lord walked the dusty plains of northern India, touching the lives of thousands with his teachings. But he did not forget Sarnath and kept coming back when Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism in the third century BC, his patronage led to many beautiful buildings and a famous monastery being constructed here.

One of the most famous remains of the period is the Ashoka pillar, with its famouS lion capital that was subsequenth adopted as the official emblem of the Indian Republic Chinese travellers. Fa Hien and Hiuen tsang, have left behind descriptions of Sarnath in its heyday. they say that some 1500, monks lived in the monastery then and there was a stupa that was nearly 100 metres high polgrims came to worship at te bodhi tree that was grown from a sapling of the one in bodh Gaya. However, in the late 12th century, both Varanasi and Sarrtatn faced the first onslaught of Muslim invasions. After Qutbuddin Aibak's attack in 1144, the monastery lay in ruins, and Sarnath no longer echoed to the chants of the monks. Seven hundred years leter in 1834, the British archaeological Alexander Cunningham, rediscovered sarnath opening a window to a forgotten period of inida's ancient history.

Dhamekh Stupa
Dhamekh Stupa, a 33-metre high cylindrical tower, was high cylindrical tower, was possibly built around AD 500. It was raised over older structures and archaeological excavations have revealed brickwork form earlier periods. the borders have and floral patterns, tpical of the Gupta period.

Dharmarajika Stupa
Emperor Ashoka built the Dharmarajika Stupa at the site where the Buddha gave his first sermon. It was broken down in the 18th century by an officer of the Maharaja of Benaras who was searching for building material for a bazaar. During his excavations, Cunningham found inside the stupa a marble casket that might have contained the relics of the buddha. just behind the dharmarajika stupa are the remains of the ashoka pollar one of the many that emperor ashoka erected. the monolithic pillar was once crowned with the magnificent lion capital that is now in the sarnath museum. the four roaring lions face the four four cardinal directions symbolising the spread of the buddha's teaching. the pollar was originally 15 metres tall and the lions supported a dharmachakra of the wheel of law but only a few fragments ot it have been found. The insciption on it is a warning by Ashoka to the monks and nuns against creating schism within the sangha or Order.

Mulgandhakuti Vihara
Mulgandhakuti marks the site where the Buddha meditated during his monsoon retreats or uassavasa at sarnath. Excavations have unearthed a statue of a bodhisttva from the 1st century AD. a tablet was also found on which the name of the shrine was carved in 1922 a temple the mulgandhakuti vihara was built here to enshrine the relics of the buddha that were discovered at taxila now in neighbouring pakistan. the interior has lifesize murals painted by a japanese artist between 1932-35 outside is the bodhi tree and its spreading branches symbolise the return of buddhism
The first landmark visitors see on their way to sarnath from varanasi is a gigh mound with the remains of a brick stupa built in the gupta period. the site called chaukhandi marks the spot where the buddha first met his five companions on arriving in sarnath. In 1588 govardhan a son of raja todar mal a prominentally of emperor akvar added an octagonal tower in the mughal style to celebrate the emperor's visit to varansi.

Sarnath Museum
The sarnath museum is a treasure trove of buddhist sculpture inscription and pottery. some of the finest images of the buddha and panels depicting important episodes from his life can be seen here the largest collection is from the gupta period carved in the fine grained chunar sandstone. the library of the mababodhi society has an excellent collection of buddhist literature rare manuscripts and even some sculptures. also worth visiting are the monasteries and temples built by other buddhist countries in their indigenous architectural styles.

Buddha purnima the full moon night in may when the birth of the buddha is celebrated is the biggest ammual festival at sarnath. a big fair springs up on the occasion and the entire town celebrates with prayer meeting group meditation and processions. during the first full moon in november monks and scholars commemorate the founding of mulgandhakuti vihara.

Sarnath was famous for its sanctity, beauty and natural scenery. Its mysits glory had attracted the Buddha to give his first sermon in 528 B.C. when the Buddha was 35 years of age. According to Buddhist literature the Buddha in his final years of life expressed to his disciples that they should visit the four places connected with the main event of life-his birth (Lumbani), enlightenment (gaya), first preaching (sarnath) and death (Kushinagar). Sarnath is the place where the third event took place. This event is know as " Turing of the weel-of-the law" (sankrit: dharamchakra-pravartan), it is believed that ever since it has been in motion.

The first sermon known as " the four novel truths " (Sanskrit: catavri arya-satyani, pali: cattari ariya-sachhani) refer to suffering the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering and leading to the cessation of suffering. This first sermon is carved in Pali inscription of four lines on a fragment of an old stone umberella, dated about 2nd century C.E. (kushan Perion). This is only Pali inscription found in northern India. Tourist sites
There are various group of object of site and scene, among them following are notables:
1. Choukhandi
This is believed that this stup was construct prior to the time of gupta kings and said to mark the actual spot where the Buddha after his enlightenment, met five ascetics who had earlier left him. There is octagonal tower on the top of the building.

2. Dhamekha Sputa (dharamchakra)
The spot is believed to be exactly the place where the Buddha delivered his second sermon on anattalakana sutta to his five deseiples. The monument is considered to be the most important and sacred among the structures at sarnath. This solid cylindrical tower, 28.5m. In height of 42.06m. Including the foundation.

3. Dharamarajika stup
This stup was built by ashok and represent one of the light " divine tower" all of them having reference to certain leading events is the life of Buddha. It has been revealed that the dharamarajika stup was inlarge six times in secession.

4. Mulagandha kutivihar This monument, aquaria on plane measuring 18.29m. Along each side, represents the main shrine where the Buddha used to sit in meditation for three months during the rainy season.

5. Ashoks lion-pillar
The lion pillar sarnath is the finest and the most famous of all examples of mauryan art. Discovered in 1905, this consists of a shaft made of a piece of stone. Presently only 2.03m. Height in inscribed stump of the original ashokan column of the size once 15025m. This was surmounted by the famous lion-capital with a crowning dharamchakra fitted above the heads of four lions on a contrivance into a grooved in the center.

6. The Jain temple: this temple was erected in 1824 to commemorate the penance and birth of 11th Jain tirthankaar sreyamsamathawhose imposing image is enshrined there. The interior of the temple is decorated with attractive frescoes depicting the lord mahavira; it is believed that this site is the part of the village simhapur in the olden days.

7. The Deer park: as mentioned in Buddhist literature sarnath was known as mrigadeva (the resort of deer) and description refers that there lived hundred of deers in the time of Buddha. The present deer park has been setup as a memento of that ancient mrigadeva.

8. The Chinese temple: there is a main hall in the temple, it is aquaria in shape. A beautiful marble image of the Buddha is paced at the center of the hall. This sculpture gives a fine and lively impression of Burmese art.

9. The Tibetan temple: the image of lord Buddha installed in this temple is the biggest image, one can find in sarnath. There are other images too. One astonishing item of the temple is a number of frescoes made on cloth wall hanging. They are several hundred years old but their color is still bright and fresh.

10. The Burmese Monastery: the Maha Wijipawi sima or the Burmese temple on the low and west of the excavation area. It was erected in C.E. 1934 by daw ryu with her daughter.

11. Sarang Nath temple: This is a Hindu temple dedicated to lord shiva in his form of "Lord of Dears. There is a big at the of this temple in eastern side.

12. The Japanese temple: about hundred-metress west from sarangnath temple, dharmachakra Varanasi has been known as the city of temples. It is said that in Varanasi, every house bas a temple. Instead of more than six distortions by Muslim invaders, at present Varanasi have more than three thousand temples.

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