India’s ‘Mountain Man’ Moves Alps to Build a Road for Fellow Villagers

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Celine Dion says in her song that love can move mountains; you just have to feel it in your soul and have a little faith. Lovers and suitors alike would often tell their girls, “I’ll catch the stars and even move mountains for you, my love.” But have you, even for once, believed that they really did touch the mountains? Know this man from India and you will.

Dashrath Manjhi, a native from Gaya in Bihar, India, literally moved mountains to help his village have an easier access to medical attention. Manjhi’s urge to build a road sparked after witnessing the death of his wife, Faguni Devi. Devi was seriously injured while trying to cross a hill to bring water to her then-farmer husband. She fell ill and eventually died shortly after the accident because of lack of medical assistance. After his wife died in 1959, Manjhi felt the need to do something to avert his neighbors from facing the same situation.

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For twenty-two years, from 1960–1982, Manjhi carved a road, 360-foot long, 25-foot deep in places, and 30-foot wide, in Gehlour hills using only his chisel and hammer. His neighbors remember hearing him ‘hacking at the hill day and night as if he were possessed.’

Though mocked at first for his efforts in trying to do what people believed was impossible, Manjhi’s hard work paid off as his feat shortened the distance between Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya district from 75km to just 1km. Thanks to him, villagers now have easier access to hospitals, schools, and the neighboring village.

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Manjhi’s selfless act brought him international acclaim. In July 2010, director Manish Jha announced the production of the film Manjhi, which is based on Dashrath Manjhi’s life, produced by Sanjay Singh, and starred by Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

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After his death on August 2007 due to gall bladder cancer, Dashrath Manjhi is still remembered by the people he inspired, especially his villagers whom he spent two decades of his life for.

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