Although his entire life was a poor man barely living from one day to another, Dashrath Manjhi become popular in his country and abroad for carving a path through a mountain using just a hammer and a chisel.
Dashrath Manjhi lived all his life in the Gahlour village, an isolated place situated at the foothills of the Gehlour Mountain, in the remote Atri block of Gaya, Bihar, in Northern India. Because of the barrier created by the mountain the community was living in extreme poverty lacking the most basic facilities: water supply, electricity, a school and a medical center. To reach the nearest town one had to travel 70 km around the Gehlour Mountain.
Like all the men from his village, Manjhi was also working on the other side of the mountain, but since they had no road the trek took hours over the mountain. The same efforts had to endure his wife Phaguni in order to bring him the daily lunch.
One day, however, on her way to her husband, she slipped and injured herself. At the sight of her wounds Dashrath Manjhi took the crazy decision to carve a way through the mountain to never let it hurt his wife or anyone again. For the next 22 years (1960 -1982), beating the mountain became his only purpose in life. His determination become fiercest when Phaguni fell ill, and unable to make the 70 km journey to see a doctor, she died.
Dashrath Manjhi quit his wage job to dedicate himself entirely to this purpose. At times, he helped people carry their things over the mountain for a small fee- money to feed his children, but his family often went without food.
At the beginning villagers called him mad, but after 10 years they could see a cleft in the mountain. Some of them came to help him and after another 10 years Manjhi could see his dream with opened eyes: a 360-feet-long, 25-feet-deep and 30-feet-wide road through the mountain that killed his love. His feat reduced the distance between the village and Wazirganj town to only 5 km away. People from 60 villages in Atri could also use this road.
Dashrath Manjhi’s glorious feat became subject of national pride while he was named the ‘Mountain Man’. He died on 17 August 2007 at the age of 73, while suffering from gallbladder cancer. At his death he was given a state funeral by the Government of Bihar.
Photos and source: thealternative.in
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