Dashrah Manjhi working to move the mountain

The Indian pass build by a single man's handsMeet Dashrath Manjhi, a poor laborer from the Gahlour village near Gaya in Bihar, India.  Dashrath, known also as “Mountain Man”, lost his wife, Phaguni Devi, who was unable to be taken to the nearest health care center for urgent treatment as the nearest road to the city was 70km long (43 miles) long.  Vowing to solve the problem himself, Dashrath set out on a labor of love, and swore to move mountains in order to ensure nobody else would experience trouble obtaining emergency medical treatment from the nearest town.  You see, Dashrath knew that although the nearest medical facility was 70km away, if a certain mountain did not exist, the trip between the cities of Atri and Wazirganj would be shortened to a mere 1 kilometers.  So Dashrath sold his goats and purchased a chisel, rope, and a hammer and set out on the near impossible task of cutting through a 300-foot high mountain in order to create a 1 kilometer passage for travelers.

Dashrath started hammering the hill in 1959 as neighbors called him eccentric, irrational, and a madman.  Those same neighbors watched in stunned silence as Dashrath emerged through the flat passage 22 years later.  Over the course of two decades, he had single-handedly cut a one-kilometer long road, 30-feet wide, and 25 feet deep through the mountain to reach “the other side of the hill”.  Thousands of laborers took more than 20 years to build the Taj Mahal.  Dashrath had worked alone, day and night, for 22 years, from 1959 through 1982 to reduce the distance between the Atri and Wazirganj blocks of the Gaya district from 75 kilometers to a mere 1 kilometer.  He became a national hero and was given a state funeral when he died on August 17, 2007.

Today the roadway is wide and smooth enough that vehicles can travel easily through the “Phaguni Devi” pass.


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