Sarnath has yielded a rich collection of
sculptures, artifacts and edifices comprising numerous Buddha and
Bodhisattva images and other ancient remains. To house all the findings
and excavations at Sarnath, the Archaeological Survey of India
established a site Museum at Sarnath. Finest specimens of Buddhist art
and other important remains have been housed at the museum.
While the single most famous exhibit of this museum is the lion
capital, the Sarnath museum has a small but awe-inspiring collection of
Buddhist artifacts. Among the things to see is a beautiful sculpture of
the Buddha from the fifth century. The Buddha sits cross-legged, with
eyes downcast in deep meditation, and a halo around his head. Also worth
exploring are several beautiful figures of the bodhisattvas.
Of other Buddhist remains there is an impressive and amazingly
beautiful, life-size standing Bodhisattva and a delicate image of the
Bodhisattva with a lotus and yet another bronze sculpture showing the
Bodhisattva with multiple arms. The museum at Sarnath also houses an
excellent collection of figures and sculptures from the Mauryan, the
Kushana and the Gupta periods. Prominent of them is the earliest Buddha
image found at Sarnath and many images of Hindu Gods dating from the 9th
to 12th centuries.
The main attraction of the Sarnath Archaeological Museum is the superb
Ashokan Pillar. It has four back-to-back lions, which has been adopted
as the National symbol of India. Below this are representations of a
lion, an elephant, horse and the bull.