At a distance of 2 km from Sarnath Railway Station, and 8 km from Varanasi Junction, Deer Park, or Istipana is a spiritual place as well as a mini-zoo in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh. Situated just behind the Mulagandha Kiti Vihar, it is one of the prominent tourist places to visit in Sarnath.
Sarnath is home to some of the most extensive ruins amongst sacred Buddhist sites. Several stupas excavated ruins of age-old monasteries, temples, museums, gardens and various other interesting sites form prominent tourist attractions in Sarnath. The Deer Park or Isipatana is the most important among them as this is the exact site where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon to his five disciples, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna.
In ancient times, Sarnath was referred to as 'Mrigadava' meaning 'deer park' and 'Ishipatna' indicating the place where holy men fell to earth. As the story goes, Buddha as an enlightened being took the form of a deer and offered his life to a king to take the place of the doe that the king was planning to kill. The king got so moved by this selfless act that he not only vowed not to kill any deer in the future but also gifted the park to the deer so that they could always move about in the park unharmed.
Spread in 33 acres of lush green land, Deer Park was established in 1956 to educate people for wildlife conservation, protection, and rescue of wild animals. The zoo comprises a large deer enclosure, reptile enclosure, and pond aviary. There are 90 spotted deer and six blackbucks who roam fearlessly in the large lush green natural environment. Besides, one can also see, emus, crocodiles, turtles, along with birds like white-necked storks, black-necked storks, painted storks, and white stork pelicans. There is a big water body on the north side of the Mini zoo where a boating facility is provided.
Timings: 8 AM to 5.30 PM
Entry: Rs. 10 for Indians, Rs. 50 for Foreigners