View in a larger map

Sarnath Museum

Location: Sarnath Museum is located in Sarnath at a distance of about 10 kms from Varanasi.

How to Reach: You can reach Sarnath Museum easily by Car, Auto-rickshaw, Train or by Bus.

Visit Timings: 10 am to 5pm. Museum is closed on Friday.

Entrance Fee: Rs. 2/- per head

                              (Children up to 15 years free).


Sarnath has produced a rich collection of sculptures, artifacts and edifices comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images and other ancient remains. To safely store and display the findings and excavations for public, the Archaeological Survey of India has established a Museum at Sarnath which was constructed in 1910. Finest specimens of Buddhist art and other important remains have been kept at the museum. The most famous exhibit of this museum is the superb lion capital while Sarnath museum has an awe-inspiring collection of Buddhist artifacts. Lion capital has four back-to-back lions, which has been adopted as the National symbol of India. Below this lion capital are representations of a lion, an elephant, horse and the bull. Famous things to see is a beautiful sculpture of the Buddha from the fifth century where Lord Buddha is sitting cross-legged, with eyes downcast in deep meditation, and a halo around his head. Also worth exploring are several beautiful figures of the bodhisattvas. There is an amazingly beautiful life-size standing Bodhisattva, a delicate image of the Bodhisattva with a lotus and a bronze sculpture showing the Bodhisattva with multiple arms. Sarnath Museum has an excellent collection of figures and sculptures from the Mauryan, the Kushana and the Gupta periods. There are many other Buddha images along with images of Hindu Gods dating from the 9th to 12th centuries.

There are five galleries and two verandahs in Sarnath Museum and the antiquities in the museum are datable from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. Northern most gallery is known as Tathagata while next one is Triratna. Main hall is known as Shakyasimha gallery and close to it on southern part is named as Trimurti. Southern most is named as Ashutosh gallery. The verandah on northern side is named as Vastumandana while the verandah on southern side is named as shilparatna. Visitors enter the museum through the main hall which displays the most valued collections of the museum. Main hall also displays the images of Buddha in different posture and Tara, the inscribed colossal standing images of Bodhisattva in red sand stone dedicated, octagonal shaft and umbrella. Triratna gallery displays the images of Buddhist deities and some associated objects along with a standing image of siddhakavira, standing Tara, leopgraph, seated Bodhisattva Padmapani, stele depicting miracle of Sravasti, Jambhala alongwith vasudhara, depiction of Ramgrama stupa being protected by Nagas, Inscriptions of Kumardevi, stele depicting Astamahasthana related to Buddha’s life and Sunga railings. Tathagata gallery displays images of Buddha in different attitude, Vajrasattva, Bodhisattva padmapani, Nilakantha Lokesvara with a cup of poison, maitreya, preaching Buddha the most prominent sculpture of Sarnath School of art. Trimurti gallery displays pot bellied seated Yaksha figure, image of Trimurti (Brahama, Vishnu and Mahesh), Surya, Saraswati, Mahisasur mardini and some secular objects like figures of birds, animals, male and female heads as well as some stucco figures. Ashutosh gallery displays Brahmanical deities like Shiva in different forms, Vishnu, Ganesh, Kartikeya, Agni, Parvati, Navagrahas, Bhairava and a colossal Andhakasuravadha (killing of demon Andhaka) by Shiva. Mostly architectural members are on display at two verandahs of the museum.