Visiting Sarnath from Varanasi, India

Have revisited Varanasi this week, having last been here in 2010.  It is a fascinating place to spend several days wandering the back lanes and the ghats along the river.


This time I also had a day trip to nearby Sarnath.  Sarnath is located about 11 kilometres from the main ghat area in Varanasi.  However due to the nature of roads and amount of traffic it is likely to take around 45 minutes to get there by car.  I good option these days in most Indian cities is to use Uber; as it is set price, and saves having to negotiate a vastly inflated rate with the local taxi drivers.  Often the problem is the Uber driver finding you, and/or calling you to speak in Hindi to ask you where you are.  Therefore it is best to order the Uber at a guest house where they can help you when the Uber driver phones up to confirm the ride.

Sarnath is one of the four places significant in Buddhist history, with the large Dhamek Stupa marking the place where Buddha gave his very first sermon.  After Buddha attained englightenment in Bodh Gaya he travelled to Sarnath to meet his five disciples and gave his sermon. Set amongst the gardens are also the ruins of several monasteries, and in the Sarnath area there are still many functioning monasteries today.  I thoroughly recommend a visit to Sarnath, not just to escape the busy city of Varanasi, but also to understand some of the Buddhist history.

Dhamek StupaDharmpal Monument Sarnath


After staying in Varanasi I continued my journey east across Uttar Pradesh state into Bihar by train. Here I visited the small village of Bodh Gaya home to the Mahabodhi Temple, which is where Buddha gained enlightenment.  I do not have any photos of my own to show from here as bags and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple complex.  Trust me when I say it is definitely worth a visit to see the historic temple.  At the time when I visited there was also a Buddhist chanting festival on, so monks from all around the globe where staying inside the temple grounds which added to the atmosphere.

Meanwhile around Varanasi I tracked down some great meals and snacks, including the old famous Blue Lassi shop. Lassi is usually a sweetened yoghurt and water drink, the one shown being pineapple flavoured.

Lassi in Varanasi As always travelling India the food is fantastic here, with often the simple ‘thali’ meal representing the best choice and value.  This plate of a food was less than £1 for a feast of rice, rotis, aloo (potato) fry, dahl, green vegetables and a sweet. The longer you can spend in Varanasi the better in my opinion, with more than just a couple of days you can take your time seeing the city, and be able soak up the atmosphere along the ghats and river more.


Leave a Reply