The museum at Sarnath has an
excellent collection of figures and sculptures from Sarnath's Mauryan,
Kushan and Gupta periods. Among them is the earliest Buddha image found at
Sarnath and many images of Hindu gods dating from the 9th to 12th
The main attraction of this Archaeological Museum is the superb capital from the Ashokan Pillar. It has the Ashokan symbol of four back-to-back lions, which has been adopted as the state symbol of modern India. Below this are representations of a lion, an elephant, horse and the bull.
The lion is supposed to represent bravery, the elephant symbolises the dream Buddha's mother had before his birth and the horse recalls that Buddha left his home on horseback in search of enlightenment.
The stone sculptures from the site of Sarnath are divided in several museums, the major chunk being in the local museum. The Director General of Archaeological Survey of India has loaned some pieces discovered from Sarnath to this museum. They represent deities of the Buddhist and Brahmanical pantheons.
The museum is open every day except Friday from 10 am to 4.30 pm. Entry fee is Rs. 2.