Sarnath Zone

Given the various demographics in Sarnath, the general sentiment differs based upon who is being asked. Local vendors who profit from the busy tourism attractions are concerned about being forced to relocate since certain permitting and legalities are not in place. Residents enjoy the close-knit community in the city, but are in dire need for better social services to handle proper drainage and waste issues. Lastly, tourist enjoy the spiritual attractions and serenity of the archaeological sites, yet have specified that more signage would make street travel much easier.


High Tourist Activity

Greenspace and Shade

The high tourist activity in Sarnath, which is credited as a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site, impacts the local economy through the patronage of museums and small businesses. The historic value of the city attracts tourist from around the world and from across the country to visit and invest in the local tourism industry.
Greenspace and shading were noticeable strengths in the city as surface temperature and air quality were measurably lower in comparison to the two other zones: Railway Station and Assi Ghat. Greenspace is a privatized benefit as most of the open greenery are located on museum grounds and archeological sites. Therefore, it must be an intentional effort to expand greenspace for public use.
The wide sidewalks and low vehicle volume reveal the partnership between the local government and state tourism industry to enhance the tourist experience in the area. The low levels of noise pollution and low-density foot traffic on the roads are credited strengths to how the city has constructed and maintained its built environment.
The connection between the Sarnath Railway Station to the Varanasi Railway Station holds travel benefits for both tourist and local residents. The presence of a rail station allows for improved multi-modal connectivity as rickshaws and private ride-hailing services are accessible to transit riders.

Wide Footpaths

Multi-modal Connectivity



Poor Drainage

Lack of Public Transportation

Despite the relatively low surface temperature that was experienced along the street, there is a drastic heat problem within residential units in the area. Upon interviewing a local family at their residence, we realized that temperatures inside each room can reach up to 40°C during the day. As young children and elderly grandparents reside in the unit, this creates a public health issue that must be addressed.
Drainage is a dire public health problem due to untreated water and its proximity to residential communities. The stagnant drains breed mosquitoes, which heightens the threat of malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
The lack of public transportation hinders the connectivity between Sarnath’s residential communities and the city’s railway station. There are no public buses that travel to the railway station, which impacts the ability of residents to properly benefit from a connected travel network.
Discontinuous and poorly-maintained sidewalks were commonly seen along the tourist corridor. This infrastructural lapse prevented residents and tourists from utilizing the space, thus forcing them to walk in the streets. Poorly-maintained sidewalks are a public health issue that put pedestrians in danger as they walk to the tourist sites, commercial business, or private residences.
The lack of adequate and informative signage in Sarnath places a burden on tourists who find it difficult to get around the city. The studio visited a local tourist information center and found little material on wayfinding and visitors maps that answered many basic directional questions that non-residents will have.

Discontinuous Sidewalks

Lack of Signage