Shakyamuni also known as Gautam Buddha after attaining enlightenment at Vajrasana walked from Bodhgaya to Sarnath to meet the five monks who had left him before. When he arrived at the Ganges, he crossed it in one step and it is here that Emperor Ashoka made his capital city. All the Buddhists of this period advance to Sarnath Buddhist site to turn the Wheel of Dharma, after achieving enlightenment. It is said that as the monks recommenced their severe practices, they saw Buddha coming towards them, who had forsaken their path and decided not to welcome him. As the Buddha came closer to the monks, they found themselves involuntarily and automatically rising and paying respect and high value. Announcing that he was Lord Buddha, he declared that the objective has been accomplished. A huge dome shaped stupa on this spot has been seen by Huen Tsang and in the present day it comprises of remains of the stupa in the form of a big mound bounded by a Muslim monument.
Several structures at the Sarnath pilgrimage site were damaged and demolish by the Turks. Nevertheless, some structures that can be recognized amid the ruins :
The Dhamek Stupa : It stands tall about 128 feet in all its glory, an astonishing stupa being 93 feet in diameter. It makes for a captivating site for tourists from all over.
The Dharmarajika Stupa : Only the foundations linger behind of this rare pre-Ashokan stupa. The remaining stupa was transferred to Varanasi to be used as construction and building materials in the 18th century. The relics found in this stupa were consequently thrown in the Ganges River.
The Chaukhandi Stupa : Dating back to the fifth century or prior this is the spot where Buddha met his first and foremost disciples. Soon after it was enhanced and improved by adding an octagonal tower of Islamic origin. Presently this site is being restored.
Mulagandhakuti vihara : This commemorates the site where Buddha spent his first rainy season. In the present time there is a monastery constructed by the Sri Lankan society, adorned with stunning wall paintings. A deer park is also situated behind this place.
Ashoka Pillar : This pillar was broken down by the Turk invasions but the base is still erect at its original position.
The Sarnath Archeological Museum : The national emblem of India and the national symbol of the Indian flag- the reowned Ashokan lion capital is housed in this museum. It also comprises of the image of Buddha in the Dharmachakra posture.