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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Sarnath

Sakyamuni, the historic Buddha, first preached the Dharmachakra, or "turning of the wheel," at the Sarnath deer park, on the northern outskirts of Varanasi.

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Northern India: Sarnath picture 1

There are only foundations and sentiments left, except for this, the hundred-foot-high Dhamakh Stupa.  The name is a corruption of  "Dharmaksha," or contemplation of the Dharma. Built in the fifth century A.D., it marks the spot where Buddha had preached a thousand years earlier.  The top--apparently never completed--is brick; the base or drum is stone.  The eight niches on the drum probably contained images. 

Northern India: Sarnath picture 2

The stone drum has a residue of Gupta ornament. 

Northern India: Sarnath picture 3

Base of what once was the Dharmarajika Stupa. The ruins dates from the Muslim invasions of the 12th century.

Northern India: Sarnath picture 4

Stupas.

Northern India: Sarnath picture 5

The main shrine, opening to the east.  The most serious visitors are from neighboring Buddhist countries.


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