Born in a village called Hulikal, Saalumarada Thimmakka has been planting trees for 65 years. To date, she has planted over 8,000 trees - including 400 banyan trees - in the state.
President Kovind presents Padma Shri to Smt Saalumarada Thimmakka for Social Work. Aged 107, Smt Thimmakka is an environmentalist from Karnataka and is known for planting banyan trees along a 4 km stretch of highway from her village Hulikal to Kudur pic.twitter.com/90szHsDxWP— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) March 16, 2019
Honouring her contribution to preserving the environment, the 'Mother of Trees' or Vriksha Mathe (her nickname) was conferred with the prestigious 'Padma Shri' award by President Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of Indian PM Narendra Modi and many other dignitaries at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president's official residence.
During the ceremony, her maternal instincts got the better of her and Saalumarada dismissed strict protocols to bless President Ram Nath by touching his forehead. The gesture brought smiles and applause from the audience as she continued to pose for the photographers with the President.
Her inspiring initiative to plant trees stemmed from her pain of not being able to bear a child. She even tried to commit suicide at the age of 40. It was her husband who stood by her during that tough period before she found her comfort in planting trees.
It was not easy. The husband and wife worked hard in the fields while kickstarting their little project, starting from 10 trees the first year and eventually increasing the number every year. Things were tough, especially in the beginning. There were times the couple was forced to bring water from over 4km away for the plants.
Even after her husband's demise, Saalumarada never stopped planting trees and their life's work has now been rewarded.
Photo Credit: The News Minute, Newsable & Rashtrapati Bhawan