Situated 300m south of the ancient Buddhist complex at Sarnath, the colossal standing statue of Lord Buddha and Thai temple are set within 2.5 acres of lush green gardens with fountains and blooming lotus flowers.
Construction of the statue was started in 1997, although the original idea was conceived 27 years earlier by Rasmi Shashan, a Buddhist monk of Indian origin, and Prakash Samadhiguna.
The cutting, carving and polishing of the stones took almost five years to complete, but work abruptly stopped for three years only to be resumed in November 2006.
The statue was completed and formally unveiled in March 2011. The project was funded by Buddhist devotees and other doners from across the globe at a total cost of £250,000.
It’s a hugely impressive statue, enhanced greatly by the pretty gardens that surround it. Standing at nearly 25m high, it is the tallest statue of Lord Buddha in India.
Known by visitors as the Thai Temple, the small red temple set to one side of the garden is officially called the Hinayana Buddha temple, although Thais call it the Wat Thai Temple.
Built by Thai dignitaries in 1933, this simple but beautiful building is surrounded by a multitude of Buddhist statues, including a laughing Buddha, and a scene depicting Buddha delivering his first sermon to his followers.
The giant statue of Lord Buddha and Thai temple are probably the most visited places in Sarnath after the ancient Buddhist complex. If you do find yourself here, it’s well worth walking a further 400m south along Rishpattan Road to see the 4th – 6th century Chaukhandi Stupa.
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