Tough times never last but tough people do. Better known as the Mountain Man, Dashrath Manjhi has proved that nothing is impossible to achieve. Manjhi’s firm determination and indomitable courage of 22 years carved a path through 360 feet long and 30 feet wide mountain that loomed between Wazirganj and Atri, near Gaya town in Bihar.
In the remote village of Gehlour in Bihar, the backward class people were ill-treated by the village heads. For daily needs and commuting, the poor villagers had to traverse through a treacherous path, by crossing a huge mountain. A landless laborer, Manjhi worked in the fields which were on the other side of the mountain. His beloved wife, Phalguni Devi, had to travel across the mountain every day to take lunch for her husband. However, a tragedy struck young Manjhi’s life. On one eventful day, a heavily pregnant Phalguni slipped and fell down from the mountain, while taking lunch for her husband. A miserable Manjhi had to take her blood-splattered wife across the huge mountain. Declared dead on arrival, a woebegone Manjhi took a hammer and chisel and decided to break down the mountain and break its ego. The only hope left for Dashrath Manjhi was his wife’s memories and a baby girl whom Phalguni gave birth to in the hospital.
Even after years of struggle, Manjhi continued with his herculean task. He even had to face a massive drought in his village and feed on dead leaves and drink filthy water at one point in his life. Manjhi was also cheated by the village head who lured him of getting funds for his work. In the course of the grueling task, he even had to face a jail term. But a journalist helped Manjhi and lodged a protest to release him. At one point in his life, he felt that all his hopes have shattered and his countless efforts have not yielded any positive result. But a ray of hope arose when a handful of villagers joined Manjhi is his uphill task of making a road across the mountain. Finally a dauntless Dashrath Manjhi reduced the distance between Atri and Wazirganj from 55km to just 15km.
The villagers considered Manjhi as a lunatic but undeterred by the criticism, he conquered them all. Finally in 1982, 22 years of struggle and toil brought in a new morning when the government decided to help Manjhi by carving a road. His valiant efforts helped the villagers to easily get medical attention for which the villagers had to cross a mountain and travel 70km. To honor Manjhi’s achievements, a hospital in the village has been named in his name. Dashrath Manjhi was even nominated for the Padma Shree but had to face inhumanity of the forest officials who called his work illegal.
However, the unconquerable Dashrath Manjhi in 2007 lost the battle of his own life to cancer but his legacy is still alive and lives amongst the millions of Indians facing numerous challenges every day. The man who moved a gigantic mountain is indeed an example of the fact that every hurdle can be crossed if one has decided to accomplish it. His 22 years of hard work and invincible spirit became a success as the road constructed by him is now being used by the local villagers. The Mountain Man’s glorifying story has defied all the odds and has given us a lifelong message to learn and remember.