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The Mulagandha Kuti Vihar was built in the early 20th century but it has a rich history that goes back centuries to the time of Gautam Buddha. Today it stands as a beautiful serene monastery that enchants visitors with its beautiful lush lawns, peaceful prayer halls and historical structures all around, making it the perfect travel destination for you and your family to have a peaceful getaway amidst this beautiful town of Sarnath. Sarnath is a town located 10 km north-east of Varanasi and is a town situated at the confluence of the Ganga and the Varuna rivers making it a town of great spiritual and economic prosperity.

Mulagandha Kuti Vihar – A Brief History

One of the famous ancient stupas Mulgandha Kuti Vihar located in Sarnath

Image Credit: Hiroki Ogawa for Wikimedia Commons

The Mulagandha Kuti Vihar is an ancient Buddhist complex situated in Sarnath. Completed and opened in November 1931, this temple is considered the crowning achievement of Anagarika Dharmapala, who founded the Maha Bodhi Society in 1891 to resurrect the prominence of Buddhism in India and restore the ancient Buddhist shrines at Bodh Gaya and Sarnath. Anagarika Dharmapala was born to an aristocratic Buddhist family in Sri Lanka on 17th September 1864. In 1891 at age 26, he took a pilgrimage to Sarnath and Bodh Gaya, where he saw first-hand the deplorable and appalling condition of the monuments there. Witnessing these monuments set him off on a journey and a mission to conserve and protect all ancient Buddhist monuments worldwide.

Throughout his life, he travelled far and wide to spread awareness and knowledge of Buddhism, with the main goal of establishing Buddhism as a definite religion in the world. In response to a request from the then-British rulers of India, he constructed the Mulagandha Kuti Vihara in Sarnath in 1931. The site chosen at Sarnath for his temple was as close as possible to where Lord Buddha is thought to have conducted his first sermon, and so today stands just 200m east of the great Dhamekh Stupa, where Buddha was said to have taught his first lessons after receiving enlightenment.

Must Read: Things To Do In Sarnath

A Serene Monastery For Peace-Loving Visitors

A lord Buddhist statue in Mulgandha Kuti Vihar at Sarnath

Image Credit: Wonker for Wikimedia Commons

The Maha Bodhi society still maintains this beautiful construction dedicated to Buddhism. The building is one of the most eye-catching in the vicinity, making the Mulagandha Kuti Vihar one of Sarnath’s greatest tourist attractions. It is said that the consecration of this monastery drew devotees from all over the world to witness and seek blessings of the great Buddha. The inner entrance foyer is decorated by a huge bell that was gifted by Japan and the interior houses a golden statue of the Buddha on a marble platform. The insides are completely dominated by fresco-covered walls depicting scenes from Buddha’s life that were made by famed Japanese artist Kosetsu Nosu and are said to have been completed in 1936.

The frescoes are an excellent source of knowledge if someone is interested in knowing more about the life of the Buddha right from his birth to the attainment of Mahaparinirvana or complete enlightenment. Also, the relics of Lord Buddha that are kept in the temple and taken out every year on the occasion of Buddha Purnima for the general public to witness and see blessings from. The Mulagandha Kuti Vihara lies just east of a modest complex with a few other Buddhist temples. According to legend, Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta, the daughter of Emperor Ashoka, went on a journey to the famed Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, the place of Buddha’s enlightenment, and she took a branch cutting from the tree and planted it in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The tree bore fruit, and in 1931, Anagarika Dharmapala placed a seedling here once it had grown to maturity. That very tree still stands today around 100 metres east of the Mulagandha Kuti Vihara.

Timings And Entry Fees

A beautifully intricate Buddhist temple at Sarnath

Image Credit: wonker for Wikimedia Commons

Location: Singhpuri, Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007, India
Visiting Timings: The Mulagnadha Kuti Vihar remains open throughout the week. Its timings are from 4:30 AM – 11:30 AM AND 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Entry Fees: The entry fee for Indian Citizens is 5Rs and for Foreigners is 100 Rs

Suggested Read: Places To Visit In Sarnath

Places To Visit Around Mulagandha Kuti Vihar

Explore Mulagandha Kuti Vihar, located in Sarnath, a town in Uttar Pradesh rich with ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Don’t forget to visit the famous places nearby, as listed below.

1. Dhamek Stupa

The Dhamek stupa at Sarnath to visit near Mulagandha Kuti Vihar.

Image Credit: Joygopal008 for Wikimedia Commons

Dhamek Stupa is a massive stupa located at the archaeological site of Sarnath in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Dhamek Stupa marks the location where the Buddha preached his first discourse to his first five disciples, Kaundinya, Assaji, Bhaddiya, Vappa and Mahanama, where all five eventually became fully liberated and enlightened. The name Dhamek derives from the Sanskrit word dharmeksa, which means “pondering of the law” in the Sanskrit language. Dhamek Stupa is the most massive structure in Sarnath. In its current shape, the stupa is a solid cylinder of bricks and stone reaching a height of 43.6 metres and having a diameter of 28 metres. The basement seems to have survived from Ashoka’s structure, while the stone facing displays delicate floral carvings characteristic of the Gupta era.

Location: Dhamekh Stupa, Dharmapala Rd, Singhpur, Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007
Timings: 6:00 am to 5:00 pm every day

2. Dashashwamedh Ghat

The Ganga aarti being performed at the ghat

Image Credit: Sulagna Halder for Wikimedia Commons

Dashashwamedh Ghat is a main ghat in Varanasi located on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi. It is located near the Vishwanath Temple. According to Hindu mythology, there is a legend that states that the creator of the universe, Lord Brahma, constructed this ghat to welcome Lord Shiva to the city. The present ghat was built by Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao in 1748 and a few decades later, Ahilyabahi Holkar, the Queen of Indore, rebuilt the ghat in 1774. One of the most famous events in Varanasi, the Ganga Aarti, is also performed at this ghat. The Ganga Aarti or the ritual of offering prayer to the Ganges river, is held daily at dusk. Several priests perform this ritual by carrying diyas and moving them up and down in a rhythmic tune of bhajans.

Location: Dashashwamedh Ghat Rd, Ghats of Varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Timings: open 24 hours a day

Suggested Read: Places To Visit Near Varanasi

3. Chaukhandi Stupa

A visitor's view of the Chaukhandi Stupa to explore near Mulagandha Kuti Vihar.

Image Credit: Christopher Walker for Wikimedia Commons

Chaukhandi Stupa is a Buddhist stupa in Sarnath, Varanasi. The Chaukhandi Stupa was originally built as a terraced temple during the 7th and 8th centuries to mark the site where Buddha and his first disciples met, travelling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath. Later, Govardhan, the son of a Raja Todar Mal, modified the stupa to its present shape by building the octagonal tower to commemorate the visit of Humayun, the Mughal ruler. Today the stupa is a high earthen mound covered with a brickwork edifice topped by an octagonal tower. It has been maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, ever since they declared it a monument of national importance in 2019.

Location: 92FF+JC4, Rishpattan Rd, Near, Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007
Timings: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm

Further Read: Sarnath Hotels

The Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is a national site due to its rich historical and cultural background. It is a place of beautiful scenic views and divine connections that can be felt by all who come here. So remember these facts and places when planning your trip to Varanasi.

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Cover Image Credit: Mukut Tapadar for wikimedia commons

Frequently Asked Questions About Mulgandha Kuti Vihar

Was Buddha born at Mulgandha Kuti Vihar?

No, the Buddha was born at present-day Lumbini in Nepal. This structure is said to have been built on the site where Buddha first taught after he received enlightenment.

What is Mulgandha Kuti Vihar?

The Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is a Buddhist monastery built to commemorate the teachings of the great Buddha.

Where is Mulgandha Kuti Vihar located?

The Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is located in present-day Sarnath, around 10 km from the main city of Varanasi.

Is photography allowed inside Mulgandha Kuti Vihar?

Photography policies may vary at different structures in the complex, so it's best to inquire at the temple regarding any restrictions before taking photos inside.

What are the visiting hours for Mulgandha Kuti Vihar?

Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is generally open to visitors from early morning until evening, though it's advisable to check for specific visiting hours before planning your trip.

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