Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath is one of the most famous and most visited tourist spot in India. Emperor Ashoka erected this pillar like several others in other parts of his kingdom. The date of erection and commissioner of this pillar is also confirmed by the edicts of Ashoka that is engraved on it. The pillar also records the visit of Ashoka to Sarnath. The year of his visit is said to be around mid 3rd century BC. It is interesting to note that at one time, the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath stood over 17 meters in height. Its capital with the four lions back to back that has been adopted as the official emblem of modern India can be seen in the museum at Sarnath.The pillar of Ashoka at Sarnath is famous for its edict. It bears one of the edicts of Ashoka. The edict has an inscription that is said to target schism within the Buddhist community. It reads, "No one shall cause division in the order of monks". The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath is actually a column surmounted by a capital. Among others, it consists of a canopy representing an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower. A short cylindrical abacus assists it where four 24-spoked Dharma wheels with four animals (an elephant, a bull, a horse, a lion in this order), and four lions face the four cardinal directions. The four animals are believed to symbolize different steps of the Gautam Buddha's life.
The History of the Ashokan Pillar at the Feroz Shah Kotla is not any less interesting. It was transported from Topra in Ambala district. A lot of care was taken to transfer it so that it would not be damaged in any way. Firstly the pillar was wrapped with silk cotton. It was then kept in a bed made of reed and raw skin. The bed was placed in a big carriage with 42 wheels and drawn by 200 men to the banks of the river Yamuna. Large boats were finally used to reach it to its final destination. The History of the Ashokan Pillar dates back to the third century B.C. Developed by Ashoka this pillar was there in Meerut until Feroze Shah Tughlaq decided to transfer it to Delhi. He liked this structure immensely and so it was brought down the Yamuna River near his Hunting Lodge. Unfortunately this magnificent structure was severely damaged in 1973. It broke to five pieces because of a gun powder explosion. A century passed after that. There was no one to restore it. Finally in the year 1838, Hindu Rao took charge of this matter so long neglected. He decided to transfer the broken pieces to the Asiatic society in Kolkata. Finally in the year 1867 a group of individuals took upon themselves the responsibility of putting together these broken pieces and re-erecting the pillar. It was then reinstalled in its earlier location. The History of the Ashokan Pillar is unique. It has been to three different places in India, sometimes in whole and sometimes in pieces.
The pillar made of very good quality stone shines like metal. The teachings of Buddha were inscribed in it. Later the records of many travelers and pilgrims were inscribed in it. The pillar also informs us of the conquests of Visala, a Chauhan king. The magnificent structure is some fourteen feet high and the inscriptions seem to suggest that the pillar was built by Emperor Ashok. The structure is made out of polished sand stone and it tapers towards the top and the fact that it was made by Emperor Ashok is further given credence by the Asoka Brahmic Script which is considered the fore runner of modern Hindi. The pillar contains Bramhi script that depicts the ten commandments of Buddha and as time passed on records of pilgrims and travelers were also inscribed on the monument. The monument has undergone quite a bit of destruction and in the seventeenth century it was completely broken to small pieces. A group of enthusiasts is said to restore the structure back to its original glory, but the official apathy has had a bad impact on the Ashoka Pillar.
|Sarnath lies only 10kms away from Varanasi by road. Varanasi as a major tourist destination and an important city in Uttar Pradesh is networked to a number of other important cities in India.Sarnath is well connected to the rest of Uttar Pradesh by roadways. The nearest mega terminus is at Varanasi that is 10 kilometers from the downtown Sarnath. Varanasi in turn is well connected by bus to cities like Lucknow, Bareilly, Kanpur, Allahabad, Agra and Mathura. Both Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation as well as Private players operates these buses .|
|The nearest Railhead for Sarnath is also Varanasi, which is one of the main Railway Stations in the region. A large number of important trains link Varanasi to the rest of India.|
|The nearest airport to Sarnath is Varanasi, which is an important domestic airports in India. Nearly all public and private airlines operate regular flights to Varanasi connecting it to cities like: Delhi, Mumbai, Khajuraho. You may also approach Varanasi from Katmandu.|
|Sarnath draws its fame as one of the main Buddhist sites in India. After he was enlightened in Bodhgaya, Lord Buddha came to Sarnath and delivered the first sermon. Stupas, Viharas and museums in Sarnath are abiding lure to the Buddhists across the world.|