For years, he was called a madman for toiling away on the rocks. But Dashrath Manjhi was not crazy. His quest to break a path through a small mountain to benefit the entire village is now legendary because he carved an entire road with hand tools, working for 22 years.
Manjhi started off his extraordinary task in 1960, after his wife was injured while trekking up the side of one of the rocky footpaths. To reach the nearest hospital, he had to travel around the mountains, some 70 kilometers. She died as they were not able to reach on time to save her.
Dashrath Manjhi wanted his people to have easier access to doctors, schools, and opportunity. Armed with only a sledge hammer, chisel, and crowbar, he single-handedly began carving a road through the 300-foot mountain that isolated his village from the nearest town.
From 1960 to 1982, from ages 35 to 55, Manjhi picked at the mountain, eventually creating a 360 foot long, 25 foot deep road. This new path cut the trip from his village to the hospital from 44 miles to just 9 miles.
He sold the family’s three goats to buy the hammer and chisels and worked every day on the project to make it successful. After plowing fields for others in the morning, he would work on his road all evening and throughout the night.
After 22 years, Dashrath Das Manjhi, the common man, the landless laborer, had broken the mountain: he had carved out a road 360 feet long, 30 feet wide. Wazirganj, with its doctors, jobs, and school, was now only 5 kilometers away. People from 60 villages in Atri could use his road.
The health of his village is owed to the man that carved through a mountain, Dashrath Manjhi.