Sarnath, 10km northeast of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and the Varuna rivers, is one of the most revered Buddhist pilgrimage centres of India. It is believed that after attaining Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, it was here that Lord Buddha preached his first sermon, sanctified as Maha Dharm Chakra Parivartan. The Chaukhandi Stupa, located at the walkable distance from the Institute, is the place where, during his first visit to Sarnath, Lord Buddha met his first five disciples. The nearby area is a treasure trove of archaeological findings such as Dharmrajika Stupa and Mulgandhkuti Vihar.

By Air
The nearest airport to CIHTS lies at Varanasi – the cultural capital of India. Varanasi Airport at Babatpur is located about 30 km from Sarnath. It is one of the important domestic airports in India. Almost all public and private airlines in India operate regular flights to and from Varanasi. From Varanasi you can avail direct flights to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Khajuraho, and others. You can also board flight from Kathmandu to reach Varanasi.

By Train
Sarnath has a railway station of its own, which is connected to Varanasi and Gorakhpur by passenger trains. The nearest railhead to Sarnath is at Varanasi too, which is one of the major railway junctions in the region. Varanasi railway station is connected to the rest of India by a large number of important trains. There are train links from Varanasi to various cities within Uttar Pradesh as well as cities in other parts of India like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Agra, Lucknow, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, to name a few.

By Road
CIHTS at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh is well connected with other parts of the state by decent roadways. The nearest mega terminus from Sarnath lies at Varanasi, about 10 km downtown from Sarnath. Varanasi is well connected by bus with major cities like Lucknow, Bareilly, Kanpur, Allahabad, Agra and Mathura. Regular buses run by Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation as well as private operators ply from Varanasi to these destinations. Hence, Sarnath is easily accessible by road from Varanasi and other major destinations in Northern India.

The weather condition of Sarnath is characterized by hot summers and enjoyable winters. However, the temperature difference is high and the best time to visit the place is between the months of October to March.Temperatures during this time range from 15°C in the day to 3°C-5°C during the nights. It can get quite chilly in the nights and one must carry warm clothing. Summers (April-June) in Sarnath are quite hot and humid and may not be the best time to visit. Temperatures during this time range from 25°C to 30°C at night to 45°C in the daytime, especially during the peak summer seasons.

One may also want to consider the various festivals celebrated here which fill the area with the colours and chants of spirituality while marking out dates. Some of these are Buddha Poornima (May), and Maha Shivaratri (February- March).

  1. The main attraction is the Dhamekh stupa complex, where the excavated ruins are located. It’s set in a landscaped park and contains the well-preserved Dhamekh Stupa (at the spot where the Buddha is believed to have delivered his first sermon), plus the remains of Buddhist monasteries, the Ashoka Pillar, and Dharmarajika Stupa. A new high-tech sound and light show, inaugurated in November 2020, takes place every evening from 7.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the park at Dhamekh stupa.
  2. On display at the attractive Sarnath Archaeological Museum, next to the Dhamekh stupa complex, are interesting artefacts dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. The impressive top of the Ashoka Pillar is also a highlight.
  3. Modern-day temples and monasteries belonging to various Buddhist countries are dotted around the town. Each has its own architectural style and beauty. The main one is MulagandhaKutiVihar. It was built in 1931 by the Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Society in honour of the shrine where the Buddha is said to have sat and meditated in Sarnath.
  4. The Thai temple and monastery is renowned for its 80-foot-tall stone Buddha statue, claimed to be the largest in India.
  5. The Chaukhandi Stupa is another major stupa that’s in relatively good condition. It marks the spot where the Buddha met up with his five companions. The Archaeological Survey of India has started maintaining the site. Next to the Chaukhandi Stupa, the Garden of Spiritual Wisdom is a new attraction with sculptures and exhibits related to Buddhism. It has a section with Ayurvedic plants as well.
  6. The eleventh Jain Tirthankara (spiritual teacher) Shreyanshnath was born in the area. There’s an important 19th-century Jain temple dedicated to him close to the Dhamekh Stupacomplex.

Lamhi village, about 30 minutes west of Sarnath, is the birthplace of acclaimed Hindi and Urdu writer Munshi Premchand. Cattle farms and agricultural fields can be visited there. Sarai Mohana village, about 20 minutes south of Sarnath, is home to a local weaving community that makes the famed silk Banarasi saris.

Since Sarnath is a small place, it does not have too many restaurants to eat from, but the few that exist sell some of the most delicious food in the region. The food there is predominantly north Indian in style along with some places selling Chinese and Tibetan dishes. The best-known restaurant in town is Vaishali Restaurant, which is large and modern in décor; they sell Indian as well as Chinese food. Other restaurants in the vicinity include Green Hut, Friend’s Corner Tibetan Restaurant and a few others within close proximity. You can also find food junctions or stalls that sell street food that are absolutely delicious and a treat after being tired from sightseeing all day.

Since Sarnath is a hub for maintaining and spreading the religion of Buddhism, the place will have different kinds of things to sell that are religious and can be used as souvenirs for people back home. You can buy things like Astha-Dhatu busts of Lord Buddha and other Gods and Goddesses that are sold in various street stores in Sarnath. You can also buy saffron robes, the ones that are worm by the monks in Sarnath and other items like beads, Buddhist prayer wheel, rugs, rosary and many more items from kiosks that are set up on the streets of the town.

1. The Fern Residency
     Plot No 15/121, Near State Bank Of India
     Ashapur, Sarnath Road, Ashapur, Sarnath, 221 007, India
     Phone: 0124 458 0651

2. Hotel Pinnacle Gate
    SA-15/129 E, HaweliaChauraha, Sarnath
    Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007
   Phone: 0542 259 5076

3. Hotel SGT Plaza
    SA-14/98-S-8 Rishpattan Rd Shaakya Sarnath,
    Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007
    Phone: 07317002940