The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

The man who took on the mountain

We extol the achievements of sportpersons, actors, musicians, public figures, industry leaders, etc. We praise the work of well-known designers, artists, and architects. We marvel at man’s journey into space, his exploration of the deep ocean, the tallest mountains.

 

We visit some of the greatest monuments ever built in the ancient and modern worlds.

 

The Taj Mahal has been officially classified as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and took Emperor Shah Jahan twenty years and twenty thousand workmen to build. It was a tribute to his wife. Millions visit this monument each year.

 

How many are even aware of another tribute built single-handedly by a poor villager in the interiors of Bihar state?

 

Have you ever heard of a village named Gahlaur?

 

Have you ever heard of a man called Dashrath Manjhi?

 

Chances are that you have not.

 

There lives in Gaya district of Bihar, a community called Musahar. The people of this community are desperately poor, are often without work, lack basic facilities, and are largely illiterate.

 

The village of Gahlaur is located in isolation by the side of a hill, and the journey to the nearest town that had a hospital took over ten hours. The people of the village had to face an arduous and dangerous trek though the mountain just to reach the main town, or even their fields.

 

The wife of a poor farm worker injured herself as she walked down the mountain to bring water to her husband. The earthen pot that bore the water was also broken. It was on that day that this simple Musahar decided to take matters into his own hands and do something to improve the lot of his community. This happened in 1957.

 

Dashrath Manjhi decided to take on the mountain. It took him 22 years.

 

dashrat-manjhi

 

He worked, single-handedly, with a hammer and chisel, often late in the day after finishing work as a farm labourer. He was ridiculed, and was called mad, but he was a driven man.

 

And, he built a road through the mountain that was about 30 feet wide (enough for vehicles to pass through) and about 360 feet long, It cut the distance between Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya district from 75 km to just ten km.

 

He did this single-handedly.

 

Manjhi’s wife died in 1961, but this simple man laboured on, determined to complete what he had set out to do. The love for his wife was the early spark, and the desire to allow his people to have easier passage to the nearest town kept him going.

 

Recognition of sorts would come years later. A piece of land was offered to him – Manjhi requested the Government to build a hospital there for his people.

 

It appears that the plot of land in a nearby village was allotted to him could not be handed over since the villagers used the land for grazing cattle. Manjhi’s request for a proper road between Gahlaur and Wazirganj did not materialize despite promises made, apparently because the forest department claimed that Manjhi did not have permission to carve through the mountain. It is said that the recommendation for a Padma Bhushan was turned down because of pressure from vested interests.

 

Dashrath Manjhi died in 2007 at the age of 73.

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April 8, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Hi,

    Only people like Dashrath Manjhi can make this world a better place. Because they are determined for the welfare of others.

    By honouring him posthumously and working on his dream project our govt can set a great example.

    It is a pity that we Indians look at Western world for inspiration and motivation even though we have people like Dashrath Manjhi who are great souls.

    Thanks,

    Like

    Comment by Jitender | October 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. I see his excellency Sir Dashrath Manjhi. He is very strong motivated man I am resident of nawada district and I see nine and ten time at wazirgang and karjara railway station. Once I talk with him because he is sit infront of me. Marvalous I donot forget this memorable time.

    Like

    Comment by Amit Kumar | October 18, 2010 | Reply


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