Sarnath is one of the most important religious places for the followers of Buddhism. It is also popular by the name of Sarangnath, Mrigadava, Migadaya, Rishipattana or Isipatana. It is the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment.
Situated about13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, Sarnath is home to a number of Buddhist temples, belonging to different Buddhist sects and countries- the main Buddha temple at Sarnath is, however, the mulagandhakuti vihara temple.
After attaining enlightenment Buddha traveled to the Isipatana to teach his friends and was able to make them understand the Dharma. His friends also became enlightened. That was the time when Sangha, a community of enlightened ones got its existence.
Besides the numerous Buddhist temples, there are various other Buddhist sites like Dhamekha stupa, Chaukhandi stupa, the 80 ft high statue of standing Buddha and other sites like the ancient ruins (where the Ashokan pillar containing the Lion capital was found) are present in sarnath. The emblem of India is an adaptation of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.
Apart from Buddhism, Sarnath is also an important pilgrimage and sacred place for Jains. Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism was born at Singhpur, a village just adjacent to Sarnath. A temple dedicated to Shreyansanath is located at the place of his birth. Thousands of followers of Jainism also visit Sarnath every year.