Sarnath, Buddha's first sermon • India, Uttar Pradesh

Explore Sarnath's time-honored legacy in under 4 minutes: from the venerated site where Buddha imparted his first sermon to the echoes of history resonating from the Dhamek Stupa. Nestled in Uttar Pradesh, India, Sarnath not only boasts ancient spiritual significance but also architectural marvels, such as the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple, a testament to devotion built in the 1930s. Dive into tales of profound Buddhist heritage, relive moments from the Gupta era, and traverse paths where once enlightened monks tread. Experience Sarnath's essence, a blend of ancient wisdom and 20th-century reverence. Your journey through time awaits.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip India • Rajasthan and Varanasi (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Uttar Pradesh • northern state of India in India. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the historical context of the sites shown in this video.

00:37 • bodhi tree and Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple

03:05 • stupa Dhamek


Buddha in Sarnath

After his first sermon in the Isapatana  Deer Park in Sarnath, Buddha continued to live for many months in this city and spent his time teaching. This is how Sarnath became a major Buddhist center and continued to prosper for centuries, enjoying the support of local rulers as well as the wealthy merchants of Benares.

Several stupas were erected in Sarnath and many monasteries were founded there. At its peak, Sarnath numbered nearly 30 monasteries, together hosting more than 3,000 monks.

Sarnath's decline

But at the beginning of the 11th century, Sarnath was ravaged by the Afghans led by Mahmoud of Ghazni and the site was razed at the end of the same 11th century by the Sultan of Dellhi. It was a great catastrophe for the Buddhists because this destruction of a holy place dealt a fatal blow to the development of the Buddhist religion which declined rapidly in India until its virtual disappearance.

Rediscovering Sarnath

Sarnath gradually fell into oblivion and it was not until the end of the 18th century that the site aroused renewed interest. No religious fervor in this rediscovery of this important ancient Buddhist religious center. The Dharmarajika stupa (or Dhanmek stupa) had remained standing, and the ruler of Benares at the time considered that this immense reserve of bricks could be used as building material. Buddha had to turn around in his grave ...

But during this work, a green marble box contained in a stone chest was discovered, which sparked new interest in the site. This box contained bone fragments, pearls, rubies and gold. Nowadays, this precious treasure has disappeared but the stone chest is kept at the Indian Museum in Calcutta.

This discovery would be of interest to treasure hunters of all stripes, and if no other box containing jewels was discovered, the numerous excavations made it possible to bring to light the ruins of stupas and monasteries.

Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple 

Near the Dhamek stupa stands the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple which is said to be at the exact place where Gautama (the Buddha) lodged when he was in Sarnath. The stone temple mimics the wooden house where Buddha lived and has been rebuilt many times. The first construction of this temple dates from the Gupta period (3rd to 6th century CE) and the current version dates from the 1930s.

about the place, Sarnath:

Sarnath, a small town near Varanasi, was the place where the Buddha delivered his first sermon. Sarnath thus became one of the four holy places of Buddhism in India. Buddha remained several months in Sarnath where he had found a shelter to pass the monsoon season.




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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of indian traditional music in "Sarnath, Buddha's first sermon • India, Uttar Pradesh ", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.

clock bij de tempel ingang, Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh • India

What's the weather like in Sarnath?

Spoken comments in the film: 

A few kilometers from Varanasi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India, is the place where Buddha gave his first sermon, the holy city of Buddhism, Sarnath. Tradition has it that this sermon was pronounced under a Bodhi tree, at the exact spot where this Buddhist temple was erected in the 1930s.


The first construction of this temple dates from the Gupta period between the 3rd and 5th century. This temple has been rebuilt many times. The interior is decorated with paintings relating the life of Buddha in Sarnath.


A côté du temple Mulagandhakuti Vihara se dresse un vieux stupa, le stupa Dhamek, datant du début de notre ère, quand Sarnath était à son apogée, le principal  centre culturel et religieux du monde bouddhiste.

Mulagandhakuti vihara, Sarnath • India • Uttar Pradesh

Mulagandhakuti vihara

Bouddha, Sarnath • India • Uttar Pradesh


prayer wheel, Sarnath • India • Uttar Pradesh

prayer wheel

Dhamekh stupa, Sarnath • India • Uttar Pradesh

Dhamekh stupa

Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh

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