Gurpa hill is the ancient shrine of Buddhism. Gurpa peak, also known as Kukkutapada Giri or Gurupada Giri is situated in a small village called Gurpa, which is located 34km from Gaya district in Bihar. On top of the Gurpa peak, there is one stupa and a temple.
From the top of the Gurpa peak, one can get a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside. It is an ideal place for meditation.
The peak first finds its mention in the scriptures of Fa Hien (4th CE), Chinese Buddhist monk and translator who traveled by foot from China to India, visiting sacred Buddhist sites in Central, South and Southeast Asia and Hiuen Tsang (7th CE), who spent sixteen years in India translating Buddhist scriptures, but both of their information contradicted with each other.
Later in 1906, Gurpa hill was identified by R.D. Banerjee, the discoverer of Mohenjo-daro, and was acclaimed as the actual site of Kukkutapādagiri.
The Kukkutapada Mountain appears as the three feets of a cock with three small mountains standing on it, also called chicken foot mountain.
It is believed that Mahakasyapa, one of the ten major disciples of Buddha, resides on the hill till date.
Mahakasyapa had gone to the hill in the last days of his life. His journey to the peak was met with obstructions by the mountains.
When he arrived at the mountain, the three mountains split and formed a seat to receive him. He entered the hollow opening and sat down to meditate. Then the three mountains enclosed his body.
Hiuen Tsang mentions that, Kasyapa did not die; he is waiting for the future Buddha i.e., Maitreya, to come to kukkitapada Giri and awaken Mahakasyapa to receive Buddha’s robe from him that Gautma Buddha exchanged with Mahakasyapa.
Mahakasyapa was born in a Brahmin family, in a village in the Magadha kingdom. Like Buddha, he was also born under the tree and was named ‘Pipphali’ which means ‘born under the tree.’
Seeing the perils of life, he denounced his worldly life for an ascetic one. He parted ways with his wife Bhadda . In later times, when Mahakasyapa became a disciple of the Buddha, Bhadda also took refuge. She was especially devoted to the training and education of young nuns.
After two years of searching for a good religious teacher, Kasyapa had found Gautam Buddha, who lived with his disciples in Venu Van, a park in Rajgir.
In his early days, he used to follow the devotees to Venu Van to listen to the preaching of Buddha.
In one of the enlightening incidents, Kasyapa on his way home, moments after he left the Van, he saw Buddha sitting under the tree. He was surprised by his immediate presence as Buddha was still in Venu Van when he was leaving the place. It is said that, in that moment Kasyapa lied down and said “Lord Buddha, my great teacher, please take me as your disciple” to which Buddha replied, “Mahakasyapa, no one in the world is qualified to be your teacher. Please take me as your disciple.”
Mahakasyapa achieved enlightenment after the seventh day of him being a monk. Later he assumed leadership of the monastic community following the death of the Buddha, presiding over the First Buddhist Council.
He is also a patriarch of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, a religion followed in China, Korea, Japan and western countries.
The way to the peak involves heavy trek, multiple stairs climbing and making your way through narrow cut rocks.
A steep path leads to the base of the rock with a narrow cleft which on entering leads to another cave. There are 1680 steps from the bottom of the hill to the top. The steps take you through breathtaking scenery and narrow passages surrounded by very high rocks.
Gurpa hill also known as Gurupada is now a pilgrimage shrine for Hindus who visit this place annually in the month of Sawan (July-August). The place according to local Hindu tradition is recognized as Vishnupada, where lord Vishnu underwent fifty-two incarnations. The footprints on the hill, as believed in Hindu traditions, are of Lord Vishnu.
China also has Kukkutapada on the Jizu Mountain, in Yunnan inspired by the Gurpa hills. It is known as the Chicken foot mountain because of its appearance which is similar to the one in Gurpa.
As per the scriptures of Fa hien, in order to avoid long pilgrimage to India, a similar identifying hill was dedicated in the name of Buddha. This was built around the 9th century when Kukkutapadagiri became popular among the devotees in China and South-East Asian countries.