Sarnath is a small town in Uttar Pradesh, situated 13 kilometers from the holy city of Varanasi. As the place where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and also where the original Sangha was formed, Sarnath is one of the four major Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in India.
It is said that the Buddha went from Bodh Gaya to the now famous deer park in Sarnath around five weeks after his enlightenment to give his first sermon to his five disciples, Kaundinya, Bashpa, Bhadrika, Mahanama, and Ashvajit.
Within the deer park complex is the large Dhamek Stupa, constructed by the Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC to commemorate his pilgrimage there. It is said that this stupa marks the exact spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. There are also several other ancient Buddhist structures in the park, along with a museum – the Sarnath Archaeological Museum – which houses a small collection of artefacts exhumed from across the site.
Sarnath is easily reached by taxi or auto-rickshaw from Varanasi. If coming from further afield, the nearest train station is Varanasi Cantt, which is connected to most major cities in India (Sarnath does have a small train station, but very few trains stop there).