Welcome to Sarnath

Today it’s one of the four key sites on the Buddhist circuit (along with Bodhgaya, Kushinagar and Lumbini in Nepal) and attracts followers from around the world, especially on Purnima (or, informally, Buddha's birthday), when Buddha's life, death and enlightenment are celebrated, usually in April or May.

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Sarnath activities

$1863.75 Cultural & Theme Tours

Private Tour: 5-Day Varanasi and Khajuraho from Delhi

Day 1: Delhi – VaranasiTransfer to the airport for your flight to Varanasi. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon enjoy a guided tour of Sarnath, one of the holiest Buddhist's sites. See the Dhamekha Stupa where the voice of Buddhism was first heard and many Buddhist dignitaries visit to pay homage to Buddha. Spend the rest of day exploring Sarnath at your leisure before returning to Varanasi. Overnight: VaranasiDay 2: Varanasi (B)Discover the holy city of Varanasi, an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus for thousands of years. Take an early morning boat cruise on the sacred Ganges River and witness the daily rituals. See the long string of ghats (steps) that line the river, where locals practice yoga and Hindus perform morning prayers before bathing in the river to wash away their sins. After breakfast, visit Bharat Mata temple, Banaras Hindu University, Vishwanath Temple, Hanuman Temple and Old City market. Overnight: VaranasiDay 3: Varanasi - Khajuraho (B) This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Khajuraho. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Khajuraho is renowned for its erotic sculptures that adorn the many medieval Hindu and Jain temples. There are many interpretations of the risque carvings, and your guide will provide you with more insight into these architectural marvels. In the afternoon, visit the Chandela Temples. Overnight Khajuraho Day 4: Khajuraho – Delhi (B)For travel dates between May 1, 2013 and August 31, 2013:After breakfast, drive approximately 3 hours northwest to Jhansi. En-route, stop at Orccha, a medieval city that lies on the banks of the Betwa River. Here, your guide will lead you on an exploration of its forts, palaces and temples that still retained their ancient grandeur.At around 6pm, collect your packed dinner from your guide and board the train to Delhi. Arrive in Delhi at around 10:45 and be met by your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel. For travel dates before May 1, 2013 and after August 31, 2013:Explore Khajuraho at your leisure before transferring to the airport for your flight to Delhi. On arrival you'll be transferred to your hotel. The remainder of your day is free. Overnight Delhi Day 5: Delhi – Departure (B)Transfer to the Delhi airport where your tour concludes.

$68 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Private Full-Day Varanasi Tour with Ganges River Boat Cruise

5:30am - Early Morning Sunrise Boat Ride on GangesAfter pickup from your hotel in Varanasi, proceed to your sunrise boat ride on the Ganges. See the early morning riverside rituals performed on the Ganges, which is a special experience. Observe people lost in prayer, washing themselves and doing their laundry. After the boat ride take a short walking tour of the back alleyways of the old city and have glimpse of Hindus holiest temple the Kashi Vishwanath. 8:30am - Break for Breakfast (at your own expense) 10:00am - Banaras Hindu University (BHU)Explore the biggest campus University in Asia, established in 1916, long regarded as a center of learning. On the campus is Bharat Kala Bhavan, a roomy museum with a wonderful collection of miniature paintings, as well as 12th-century palm-leaf manuscripts, sculptures and local historical displays. 10:30am - New Vishwanath TempleVisit the new Vishwanath Temple, also called the Birla Temple is also located inside the Banaras Hindu University. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and it is the exact copy of the original Vishwanath Temple. 11:30am - Mother India Temple (Bharat Mata Mandir)See the Bharat Mata Temple this the only temple dedicated to Mother India built in 1918. The temple has an unusual marble relief map of the Indian subcontinent inside. 12:30pm - Silk Weaving Art of VaranasiVaranasi is known throughout India for its production of very fine silk and Banarasi saris. Varanasi saris are adorned with intricate designs and embellishments making it popular during traditional functions and weddings. The city has flourished as the textile capital of the region and you will watch how this traditional silk work is produced.1:30pm - Lunch Break (at your own expense) Lunch at one of the best local restaurants in the area.2:30pm - Visit SarnathIn Sarnath visit Dhamekh Stupa and the monastery ruins. This where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. Also, visit the Archaeological Museum, this fully modernized 100-year-old sandstone museum houses wonderfully displayed ancient treasures from the 3rd-century BC. Important: The Archaeological Museum in Sarnath is closed on Fridays. 5:00pm - Evening Aarti Ceremony at the Ganges RiverTake a boat to see the cremation ground then come back to Dashashwamedh Ghat to watch the nightly Ganga Aarti ceremony with fire  dancing performed right in front of you. 8pm - Return to Your Hotel

$325 Cultural & Theme Tours

3-Day Varanasi Exclusive Tour

Day 1: AartiBe picked-up at the airport or railway station and check in to hotel. In the evening, experience the Hindu ritual Aarti. Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when offering of lamps is being offered. Hindus in India worship the river Ganges as goddess. Every evening in Varanasi, aarti is performed at the Dashashwamedh ghat. We can watch it from the Ghat or from the waterside in a boat. It is a beautiful, resonant, and majestic spectacle with a very precise choreography involving rituals performed by several priests with the sound of bells, drums, cymbals, and Sanskrit mantras.Day 2: Morning Boat RideStart your next day with a morning boat ride at the dawn. Boating in the Ganges at the sunrise in Varanasi is one of the main attractions. Observe Hindu’s way of life on the bank of the river Ganges. There are number of temples on the bank of the Ganges River in Varanasi. It is at the Ganga Ghats [Banaras Ghat] where you can see life and death together. There are numbers of Ghat alongside Ganges river in Varanasi where you can see Hindu cremation as well. Some of the prominent and popular Ghats at Varanasi are the Dasaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Assi Ghat,Shivala Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Darbhanga Ghat, Ahilyabai Ghat and Kedar Ghat. After the boat ride take a small walk in to the oldest part of Varanasi, famous for its narrow street. Visit Kashi Vishwnath Temple area, also known as the Golden Temple. (The temple itself is open to Hindu only)After breakfast, drive to Sarnath, approximately 10km (6.2ml) from Varanasi City. Varanasi is where the Buddha chose to deliver his first sermon in a Deer Park. It makes Sarnath one of the most venerated Buddhist places. Besides Buddhism, Sarnath is also connected with Jainism. There are many Buddhist monuments and edifices at Sarnath.    The main attractions of Sarnath are Archaeological and Excavation Area (Sarnath, Deer park), Chaukhandi Stupa, Dhammek Stupa (Dhamekha Stupa), Dharmarajika Stupa, Mulagandhakuti Vihara, Ashoka Pillar (Ashokan Lion Pillar), Ashokan Lion-Capital (the national emblem of India) and the Archeological Museum.  Day 3: City TourAfter breakfast, drive to Banaras Hinu University, and visit the Indian art museum Bharat Kala Bhawan and New Kashi Vishwnath Temple. Other important points to see in city include the Durga Temple (monkey temple), Tulasi Manas Temple, Bharat Mata Temple (Mother India Temple).

$104 Tours & Sightseeing

Varanasi and Sarnath Full-Day Private Tour, Ganges Boat Cruise

The tour starts early in the morning, at 5am, where you will take a boat cruise on the river Ganges to observe the way of life of the pilgrims by the Ghats. You will rise before dawn and step gingerly onto a rickety boat as the boat coasts off. You will wait for the daily miracle to unfold as the sun rises over the horizon. The sounds of conchs and the temple bells ring in the pink fabric of the dawn. After breakfast, you will start the city tour of Varanasi around 9am where you visit the Bharat Mata Temple with a big relief map of India in marble. Then you will visit the Durga Temple, Tulsi Manas Mandir, the Banaras Hindu University which has an art gallery and the mosque of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb. Afterward, you will head to Sarnath, an important pilgrimage center for Buddhists. This is where Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Sarnath’s temples and archaeological museum are full of Buddhist art and treasures. Later in the evening, you will enjoy a rickshaw ride passing through the busy streets and bazaars of Varanasi that will take you to the holy river, the Ganges, where you will cruise to witness the Aarti ceremonies amidst hundreds of lighted candles and flower offerings. After your long day, you will be dropped off at your accommodation in Varanasi.

$36 Tours & Sightseeing

Private Tour: Full-Day Varanasi Tour including Sarnath and Evening Ganga Arti

Get picked up from your centrally located hotel in Varanasi at 10am. Meet your local guide and proceed on an extraordinary expedition around the city. Drive to Sarnath where Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. It is believed that Buddha traveled to Sarnath to meet his five companions - Koudanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Asvajiya and with whom he shared his new found knowledge. Your guide will tell you about the significance of various places in the holy city of Sarnath as you proceed first to visit the Chaukhandi Stupa, built originally in the 4th century during the Gupta Dynasty. Visit the Dhamekha Stupa, located at a deer park, believed to have been constructed by King Ashoka in 249bce. Proceed to visit the significant ruins of Dharmarajika Stupa, the exact spot that contained the bones of Buddha before it was destroyed by Jagat Singh in 1794. Catch a glimpse of the great Ashoka pillar and explore Buddhism in a unique archeological museum built to commemorate the culture and religion. Listen as your guide narrates the legends and stories about Buddhism and proceed to Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple. This exquisite temple was built by the Sri Lankan Mahabodhi Society and is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the city. Catch a glimpse of the standing Buddha statue and drive back to Varanasi. As the evening arrives, the city will begin its preparations for the Ganga Aarti ceremony, a highly choreographed ritual preformed on the Daswamedha Ghat, celebrating the existence of River Ganges. Burning lamps, flowers and scented sticks fill the ambiance with peace. Experience this age-old tradition as your local guide tells you all about Hindu mythology. As the ceremony ends, you will be dropped back to your hotel.

$145 Private & Custom Tours

Varanasi tour package for first timers

Day 01: Varanasi arrival + Walking tour + Participate in evening prayer ceremony with boatOn arrival at Varanasi airport or railway station, you will be met you company Representative and will be transferred to your booked Hotel [Accommodation for 01 Night by service provider included]. Later in afternoon and drive to Main Spice Market [Shops remains closed on Sundays]. You will step into old lanes of Varanasi. A guided walk in Varanasi old streets and through thousands years old alleys, holy temples will leave you mesmerized. Discover the sacred and oldest living culture of this ancient city with getting yourself into these old streets. A walk which promises surprise at every step is extremely rich in its insights and sights.This Varanasi walk takes place in Northern part of the Ghats, and will give real insights of Varanasi. With this walking tour one would be able to see Kashi Vishwanasth Temple, Famous Food Streets of Varanasi, Kachuri Gali, and Perfume Market, Flower market, Silk Market, Souvenirs Market, Spiec Market and many countless things.Later after this you will be transferred to river bank of Ganges and embark on a private boat to see cremation rituals followed by witnessing  in evening prayer [Aarti] ceremony. This is a way of Hindu worship takes place publicly and performed by a group of Priests. Day 02: Sunrise boat ride + Visit to Sarnath + Departure transfer 30 minutes prior to dawn, you will be taken on a boat excursion on the holy river Ganges where you will see the bathing Ghats and cremation site. As you watch people taking holy dips in Ganges and executing the worshiping rituals on the Ghats, you will feel the spirituality of the locals and it might lead you to the deeper insight into your existence in this universe.Return back to Hotel for breakfast.After breakfast drive to Sarnath. A place wherefrom Budhhism religion started and where Lord Budhha gave his first sermon. You will be seeing here Ruins of Sarnath, Archeological Museum [remains closed on Fridays], Deer park and Budhha Temple.This tour will be completed approximately by 01:00 PM.Later after this at an ideal time transfer to Varanasi airport or railway station to catch your flight or train to your onward destination.