Sarnath • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple - Buddhist Frescoes and Meditations

In the venerable grounds of Sarnath, where echoes of bygone eras dance with the rhythm of the present, stands the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple, a silent sentinel of time passed. Constructed in the 20th century, this modern vihara honors the original site where the Buddha spent many a rainy season in deep meditation, following his inaugural sermon. Its walls, adorned with vibrant frescoes, vividly narrate the life and teachings of the ancient Sage, capturing the very essence of his spiritual journey.

Beneath its sacred boughs, the temple weaves a bridge between ages, evoking the depth of Buddhism and Sarnath's spiritual legacy. Here, pilgrims from all corners of the globe find solace, connecting with both ancient history and present-day spirituality. The Mulagandhakuti Vihara, with its majestic aura, continues to illuminate hearts and minds, an enduring flame within the sanctuary of Sarnath.

Sarnath • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple: mural ( India, Uttar Pradesh )

Sarnath • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple: mural

Sarnath • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple: memorial stone ( India, Uttar Pradesh )

Sarnath • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple: memorial stone

Sarnath • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple: view of the temple ( India, Uttar Pradesh )

Sarnath • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple: view of the temple

The Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple in Sarnath, India: A Historical Overview


Situated in the spiritual epicenter of Sarnath, the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple stands as a testament to Buddhism's profound legacy in India. A silent observer to the ebb and flow of centuries, the temple marks the very ground where Buddha is believed to have spent numerous rainy seasons in meditation.


Historical Background and Origins


The Mulagandhakuti Vihara of today, constructed in the 20th century, harks back to a far older lineage. Sarnath, where the temple resides, is revered as the location where Siddhārtha Gautama, having become the Buddha, delivered his inaugural sermon post-attainment of enlightenment. Even though the present-day Vihara is a comparatively recent edifice, it signifies the spot of the original Mulagandhakuti - the Buddha's monsoon shelter.


Architectural Highlights and Features


The modern structure, with walls graced by intricate frescoes depicting the life of Buddha, serves as a visual narrative of the Buddha's significance and teachings. Each meticulously detailed fresco narrates a specific chapter or episode from the illustrious life of this esteemed teacher, offering onlookers a profound insight into his spiritual journey.


Anecdotes and Associated Tales


One captivating tale associated with the temple pertains to how its wall frescoes came into being. The construction of this Vihara was initiated by Anagarika Dharmapala, a Sri Lankan trailblazer of the Buddhist revival movement. The frescoes were then commissioned to Kosetsu Nosu, a celebrated Japanese artist of the time, reflecting the deep cultural connect and influences shared amongst Buddhist nations of Asia.


Spiritual Significance


Beyond its architectural grandeur, the Mulagandhakuti Vihara is a locus of deep spiritual significance. Pilgrims and visitors from across the globe journey to Sarnath seeking to meditate, offer prayers, and pay homage to Buddha. The temple stands as a perpetual, tangible reminder of the depth of Buddhist teachings and Buddha's continued influence over countless lives.




The Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple, with its enriched history and profound ties to Buddha himself, transcends beyond a mere architectural marvel. It symbolizes the living essence of Buddhism, its heritage, and its invaluable contribution to global spirituality. Those in pursuit of understanding Buddhism or merely connecting with a deeper facet of existence will find Sarnath, and especially the Vihara, a place of immense resonance.

Temple Mulagandhakuti Vihara in Sarnath: Main Architectural Features


Located in Sarnath, near Varanasi, the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple stands as a poignant testimony to India's rich Buddhist heritage. It melds traditional and modern architectural nuances, reflecting both the ancient history of Sarnath and contemporary endeavors to preserve and celebrate this heritage.


Architectural Design


The temple, with its towering structure, showcases a grand façade with intricately carved entrances. The overall architectural design borrows from traditional elements, seamlessly integrating them with modern traits to craft a space that speaks to both the old and the new.


Mural Frescoes


One of the temple's standout features is the frescoes that adorn its interior walls. Painted by the renowned Japanese artist Kosetsu Nosu, these intricate frescoes trace the life of Buddha. Each mural is a visual narrative, capturing pivotal moments from Buddha's life, from his birth to his enlightenment and eventually his nirvana.


Main Sanctuary


At the heart of the temple lies the main sanctuary where a seated statue of Buddha is placed. This golden statue, with its serene posture and peaceful countenance, serves as a focal point for meditation and prayer. The intricate details of the statue, from the folds of its robe to the expression in its eyes, bear testimony to exceptional artistry.


Gardens and Surroundings


Surrounding the temple, the gardens and adjoining areas offer a tranquil space for contemplation. With lush vegetation and winding pathways, they add to the serene ambiance of this sacred site.




The Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple, with its distinctive architectural elements, is not just a pilgrimage site for Buddhists but a treasure for all who value art, culture, and history. Its design, merging tradition with modernity, makes it an iconic monument in Sarnath, bearing witness to the region's extended Buddhist history.