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Things To Do In Sarnath
One of the most religious places deemed by Buddhists all over the world is Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh. Located not too far from the religious city of Varanasi, the town of Sarnath is small and quaint and is the place where Buddhism grew as a religion. A trip to Sarnath will take you back to the time when Buddha started preaching; the ruins in the region, the archeological artifacts and the various temples and monasteries define a history that is worth discovering and knowing about. Below is a list of things to do in Sarnath that you may want to consider before going on a trip to the town.
Visit the Monastery Ruins
Witnessing the monastery ruins in Sarnath is amongst one of the top things to do in the town. It is said that King Ashoka who was passionate about Buddhism, had built 28 stupas in Sarnath, which now lie as ruins. The stupas are still maintained and open to public. The same compound has ruins that date back to the 3rd and the 12th century A.D. Also, if you go to the north of this complex, you will find the Dharmarajika stupa ruins. In all these ruins you can see artifacts dating back to the Sunga period and the Gupta dynasty.
Appreciate the Japanese Temple
Accessed from the main market of Sarnath, the Japanese Temple is a beautiful temple that has typical Japanese architecture. A double storey pagoda and a sloping curved roof give it a very typical feel of Japanese aesthetics. The original name of the Japanese Temple is Nichigai Suzan Horinji Temple, but tour guides use the former name to refer to it. When you enter, you can see a statue of Buddha in a calm pose, underneath a tree and then on the right you can see the temple. The ambience of the vicinity it is is built in is very calm and gives out positivity.
Go to the Garden of Spiritual Wisdom
The Garden of Spiritual Wisdom calls out to all the nature lovers, those wanting to spend some time relaxing in the arms of Mother Nature. In the past there was extensive renovation and now it has been open up to the public. The landscape it sits on is absolutely beautiful and has manicured gardens, bonsai plants and an atmosphere so calm that you will want to bask in its glory. The garden is portrayed in such a way that it imparts wisdom and conveys the message of Buddhism. Don’t miss out on this thing to do as it’s a truly serene experience.
Take Part in Buddha Purnima
Buddha Purnima is a festival that celebrates and commemorates the birth, enlightenment and the salvation of Lord Buddha. Since Sarnath is an important place of religious prominence to Buddhism and its followers, the festival of Buddha Purnima is celebrated with much joy and vigor. During the day several prayers are said and there are free medical camps to help out the poor. Be a part of this auspicious festival in Sarnath and take part in the festivities by eating vegetarian delicacies, lighting fragrant incense sticks and feeling an aura of peacefulness within.
Experience Serenity by Meditating
Attend a Vipasssana Meditation course in Sarnath and achieve the inner peace that you were always looking for. Vipassana is to see things for what they are really and one of the oldest Indian meditation techniques. This type of meditation teaches participants basic methods of meditation and how to practice them in order to achieve desired results. These meditations take place both in centers like retreat centers, churches and monasteries and non centers like campgrounds. The Thai Monastery in Sarnath has a huge meditation center that tourists can meditate and the place also provides tents to sleep in during the retreat.
Learn About the Mahabodhi Society of India
If you are an avid follower of Buddhism, visiting the Mahabodhi Society of India in Sarnath is something you must do. Established in 1891 by Sri Lankan Pilgrim Anagarika Dhamapala, the Mahabodhi Society was founded in order to restore and renovate existing Buddhist sites and sculptures in Kushinagar, Bodhgaya and Sarnath. These places have now become important places for Buddhist pilgrims and in general for the Buddhism. The center in Sarnath dates back to a few centuries ago, going back to when the religion first emerged. This is a great place to attain peace and sit and meditate for hours without any disturbances.
Attend a Class in Vajra Vidya Institute
Sarnath being one of the major destinations for the study of Buddhism, has a number of meditation centers as well as centers where one can learn more about Buddhism and its teachings. Thrangu Rinpoche had set up the Vajra Vidya Institute for people who wanted to do higher Buddhist studies in Sarnath It is located behind the Deer Park and is something that won’t miss your eyes. This institute conducts short courses for people who want to learn more about Buddhism and are given food and accommodation at a minimal price while staying there. The highlight of the place is that it has a huge shrine adorned with beautiful colours and a statue of Buddha