Sarnath is one of the oldest towns in Varanasi that is not just dearer to India, but also to most of the Asian countries that follow Buddhism. It forms the pilgrimage circle of Buddhist along with Lumbini, Bodhgaya, and Kushinagar. Its archaeological remains have been a wonder to the world and pride of India. The most important treasury among the several findings from the excavation is the Dhamekh Stupa. People also call it as Dhamek and Dhamekha, which means “turning the wheel of dharma.’ It is the most massive structure found in Sarnath that still surprises the best architects of the world, and revels the ‘Eightfold Path.’
The Dhamekh Stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka in 249 BCE to commemorate the activities of Buddhism in the town. It is believed that the emperor built it in order to enshrine the relics of Lord Buddha and his disciples. It is one of the massive Buddhist structures of the ancient time found in India. It is built in cylindrical shape and stands 34 metres in height and 28.3 metres in diameter. Its foundation is made of stone and brick. Carved stones have been used in its lower portion. The border of the structure also has been carved with floral and geometrical designs. Adding to the beauty of the border are the images of birds and human. After neatly observing the structure, it makes clear that there might also have been a fencing of carved stone at its base. There is also an inscription in Pali script on a stone table that states it is the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon.
Overall, the architecture of the Dhamekh Stupa displays the workmanship skills of the Gupta period. Many Buddhist pilgrims and gurus visit and circumambulate it to get blessings from Buddha. When they are moving around the Stupa, they chant ‘Om Mani Padme Hum.’