Disciples step in to fulfil Bundi Mountain Man’s dream – cement road on carved-out hill path

Disciples of Rajasthan’s ‘mountain man’ Baba Bajrang Das, who died last year after carving a temporary passage out of a hill in Bundi district, have stepped in to fulfil his dream – making the pathway into a permanent road.

People of Gendoli and Mandpur villages living on either side of Mandpur hill in Keshoraipatan panchayat samiti of Bundi district had to travel more than 40km till two decades ago to reach each other’s villages. Now they travel just 3km to cross the hill, thanks to the efforts of Baba.

While the love of his wife had prompted Dashrath Manjhi of Bihar to carve out a passage over the Gahlour hills near Gaya between 1960 and 1982, the villagers’ problem inspired Baba to take up the initiative to cut open a road through the Mandpur hill.

Baba started cutting the rocks in the 1980s using hammers and chisels; he was later joined by his disciples and local villagers in his efforts. More than a dozen villages around Gendoli and Mandpur benefit from the passage cut through the hill.

Baba, a religious leader, died in October last year at the age of 85 after prolonged illness. His dream of making the temporary passage into a permanent road remained unfulfilled. Baba’s disciples and around 2000 people of a dozen villages have started road construction work from Guru Poornima to fulfil his dream.

“Bajrang Das shifted to Narsingh ashram in Bundi town three years ago due to illness; after that potholes emerged on the temporary passage because of apathy,” said Mukesh Madhwani, a corporator of Bundi and a disciple of Bajrang Das.

Villagers, he said, have started filling the potholes with stones and they would continue to donate their labour for another couple months to make the passage motorable. “Around 25 villagers will contribute their labour daily for making the permanent road with cement mix.”

Villagers and disciples will raise Rs 50 lakh through donations for constructing a 2.25-km-long permanent cement road, said Jitendra Vyas, a Baba’s disciple in Kota. Baba and his disciplines had demanded for long that the government construct a permanent road, but it didn’t happen.

The passage through the hill took shape in 1995 after 15 years of hard work by Bajrang Das, said Mahaveer Modi (55), a villager of Gendoli. “Although the passage is still a makeshift arrangement, still pedestrians, animals, two-wheelers, and even four-wheelers pass through it,” Modi said. “Bajrang Das used to spend donations on hiring labourers for pummelling through the hill.”

As a mark of honour to Baba’s initiatives, villagers have renamed Mandpur hill as ‘Bajrang Ghati’. “Bajrang Das was illiterate and unmarried, but he has done what many literate people cannot do,” said Vyas.

A film has been shot on the life of Dashrath Manjhi; the Bihar government proposed his name for Padma award and named a road after him. Baba Bajrang Das has remained an unsung hero, villagers said.

First Published: Aug 02, 2018 22:55 IST

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