Andy Dufresne dug his way out of Shawshank with just a rock hammer, but Dashrath Manjhi carved through a mountain in Bihar, India, with no more than a hammer, chisel and a crowbar. The mountain, one of many in the region’s Gehlour Hills, stood in the way between Manjhi’s village of Ganj, and essential needs such as clean water, electricity, schools and medical centres.
When Manjhi’s wife died due to a lack of basic medical care, the labourer sold his goats and bought a hammer, a chisel and crowbar. The year was 1960. Working night and day of chipping away at the pesky rock, 22 years later the mountain was carved in half with a 120m long, 8m deep and 10m wide path. The shortcut cut the usual route to the village by almost 70km, allowing access to doctors, jobs and schools. “When I started hammering the hill, people called me a lunatic but that steeled my resolve.”
When I started hammering the hill, people called me a lunatic but that steeled my resolve.
Though it took 22 years to carve the path, it took another three decades to seal the dirt road. As a reward for his immense effort, the Indian government rewarded Manjhi with a small plot of land which the ‘mountain man’ donated for the construction of a hospital. Not surprisingly, the man was given a state funeral when he passed away in 2007.