By Anil Kr Pujara
The second image depicted on the ASI Special Cover is of DHAMEKH STUPA.It is situated in SARNATH. SARNATH is one of the foremost n important four most sacred places for the BUDHIST where Lord Buddha preached his first Sermon after attaining Enlightment.The event is known as \’DHARMA CHAKRA PRAVARTANA \’or setting the Wheel of Law in motion. The other three sacred places are LUMBINI, BODHGAYA n KUSHINAGAR being the places of his Birth, Enlightment, and Nirwana respectively.The very first \’Sangh\’ was also founded over here with sixty one monks including Lord Buddha.Sarnath is equally sacred to Jains being the venue of austerities and death of Sreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara.
The Archeological significance of the place was first brought to the notice of modern world by Mr.J.Duncan in 1798. Excavations carried out by Archeological Survey of India on large scale from time to time have revealed a no of Monastries, stupas, temples, inscriptions, sculptures etc. ranging in date from 3 century BC TO 12. century AD.The most important structure at Sarnath is Dhamekh Stupa a solid cylendrical tower about 28.5 mts in diameterat base and raising to a height of about 33.5mts. It is veneered with sand stone upto the height of 11.20 mts and provided with niches in eight directions which must have been once holding images. Below the niches runs a broad course of beautifully carved elaborate ornamentation which represents high skill of workmanship on stone during Gupta Period.