India's Dashrath Manjhi spent 22 years carving a road right through a mountain.

The Indian Man Who Spent 22 Years Single-Handedly Carving a Road Through a Mountain

The Indian Man Who Spent 22 Years Single-Handedly Carving a Road Through a Mountain

Atlas Obscura
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July 27 2015 5:00 PM

The Man Who Carved a Road Through a Mountain



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Forget reality shows about the subject; the ultimate tale of man vs. nature may be the story of Dashrath Manjhi, who single-handedly carved a road through an entire mountain that had been isolating his village from essential services.

The Gehlour hills are a low-but-treacherous spine of mountainous terrain that once divided the settlements and services on either side. In fact many villagers from Manijhi's town had to trek for miles around the hills just to reach their fields and schools. However, this all changed with the tragic death of Manjhi's wife, Faguni Devi. Devi was traversing the narrow path across the tall hills to bring her husband some water when she was seriously injured. The nearest medical facility was over 40 miles away, and Devi perished shortly after her accident. 


Struck by his loss, Manjhi resolved to make sure such a tragedy never happened again. Taking up simple tools, he began chipping away at one of the hills, hell-bent on creating a road that would service his village and others like it. Ridiculed by his fellow villagers and ignored by the government, Manjhi worked dauntlessly on the road day after day, slowly but surely eroding a passage into the earth. In time the locals came to respect his work as they saw its promise and many of them began providing food and tools for the newly dubbed "Mountain Man."

After 22 years of back-breaking labor, Manjhi finished the 360-foot road in 1982. Tearing straight through the mountain, the road not only cut miles of travel for countless village travelers, it made traversing the area safer, as well as allowing for small automobile traffic.

The Mountain Man died in 2007, but the road that was the fruit of his labor still bears his name in an amazing testament to the power of the individual.

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Eric Grundhauser is a head writer and editor at Atlas Obscura. He lives in Brooklyn with his comic book collection. Follow him on Twitter.