Saalumarada Thimmakka
Thimmakka in 2011
Born (1911-07-08) 8 July 1911 (age 112)[1][2][3][4]
AwardsPadma Shri (2019)

Saalumarada Thimmakka, also known as Aala Marada Thimmakka, is an Indian environmentalist from the state of Karnataka, noted for her work in planting and tending to 385 banyan trees along a 45-kilometre (28 mi) stretch of highway between Hulikal and Kudur. She has also planted nearly 8000 other trees.[6] With the support of her husband, she found solace in planting trees.

She received no formal education and worked as a casual labourer in a nearby quarry.[7][8] Her work has been honoured with the National Citizen's Award of India. Her work was recognised by the Government of India and she was conferred with Padma Shri in 2019.

A U.S. environmental organisation based in Los Angeles and Oakland, California called Thimmakka's Resources for Environmental Education is named after her.[9] Central University of Karnataka has announced an honorary doctorate for Thimmakka in the year 2020.[10]

Early life

Thimmakka was born in Gubbi Taluk of Kingdom of Mysore, presently in Tumakuru district of Karnataka. She was married to Chikkaiah, a native of Hulikal village in the Magadi taluk of Ramanagara district in Karnataka. She received no formal education and worked as a casual labourer in a nearby quarry. The couple could not have children. It is said that Thimmakka started to plant banyan trees in lieu of children.[11] The name word Saalumarada (row of trees in the Kannada language) is how she is referred to because of her work. Thimmakka has a foster son named Umesh.[12]

Trees planted by Salumarada Thimmakka along SH94 from Hulikal to Kuduru village


Ficus (banyan) trees were aplenty near Thimmakka's village. Thimakka and her husband started grafting saplings from these trees. Ten saplings were grafted in the first year and they were planted along a distance of 5 km near the neighbouring village of Kudur. 15 saplings were planted in the second year and 20 in the third year.[13] She used her meager resources for planting these trees.[11] The couple used to carry four pails of water for a distance of four kilometres to water the saplings. They were also protected from grazing cattle by fencing them with thorny shrubs.

The saplings were planted mostly during monsoon season so that sufficient rainwater would be available for them to grow. By the onset of the next monsoons, the saplings had invariably taken root.[13] In total, 384 trees were planted, and their asset value has been assessed at around 1.5 million rupees.[8] The management of these trees have now been taken over by the Government of Karnataka. [11]

The 385 banyan trees planted and nurtured by her came under threat of being chopped down for the widening of Bagepalli-Halaguru road in 2019. Thimmakka requested the Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara to reconsider the project. As a result, the government decided to look for alternatives to save the 70 years old trees.[14]


For her achievement, Thimmakka has been conferred with the following awards and citations: Padma Shri Saalumarada Thimmakka.The President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind presenting the Padma Shri Award to Saalumarada Thimmakka, at an Investiture Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on 16 March 2019

Current activity

Thimmakka with members of Campus Friend of India on World Environment Day, 2015

Thimmakka's husband died in 1991.[17] Today, Thimmakka is invited to many afforestation programs in India.[8] She has also been involved in other social activity like constructing a tank to store rainwater for the annual fair held in her village. She also has a dream of constructing a hospital in her village in remembrance of her husband and a trust has been set up for this purpose.[8] In 1999, a documentary titled Thimmakka Mathu 284 Makkalu was made on her work and it featured in the 2000 International Film Festival of India.[18] She underwent a hip surgery in December 2020 and was announced to be successful.[19]

BBC recognition

In 2016, Saalumarada Thimmakka was listed by British Broadcasting Corporation as one of the most influential and inspirational women of the world.[20]

Alleged misuse of name

Delhi settled comedian, Vasu Ritu Primlani has been accused by Thimmakka of misusing her name. Ms. Thimmakka had filed a private complaint before the Ramanagara Judicial Magistrate First Class (JFMC) court on 9 May against a non-resident Indian, Ritu Primlani, for running the organisation named after her for at least 14 years without her consent or knowledge.[21]

In 2014, the High Court of Karnataka adjudicated in Ms Primlani's favour, stating that 'if all the charges against Ms Primlani were true, they still won't amount to a crime', and that this prosecution. See State of Karnataka Vs. Ritu Primlani. Ms Thimmakka had, in fact, met Ms Primlani in 2003, when Ms Primlani had made the effort to visit her, and Ms Thimmakka had stated she was 'delighted' that Ms Primlani had named an organisation after her to honour her.

Primlani had started the non-profit organisation more than a decade prior to the allegations.[22] Thimmakka's adopted son, Umesh has claimed that the organisation misuses her name to collect donations. Ms Primlani had visited Thimmakka back in 2003 where photos were taken of her gifting Thimmakka with a saree. Now she is said to have allegedly taken Thimmakka's fingerprints, while she says Thimmakka okayed the non-profit back than in front of a judge.[23]

Following the complaint, a policeman arrived at Alliance Francaise and Jagriti in Bangalore, venues where Ms Primlani was performing her shows, to take her into custody. Ms Primlani claims that she was taken into custody by a male policeman, after dark, which is against the law. She says that a dozen policemen had arrived at the venue though they did not disrupt her show. She claims to be harassed by Thimmakka's lawyers with written threats, which is an indication of extortion.

Though Thimmakka herself was mostly available for comment, she mentioned her meagre pension of Rs. 400 and has been quoted "What if there is a misuse and my name is tarnished?". Thimmakka has been of ill health lately and the treatment has taken a toll on her financial situation.[24]



  1. ^ C S, Yamini; Dhar, Aniruddha (11 July 2022). "Meet Saalumarada Thimmakka, 111-year-old environmentalist given a cabinet rank". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  2. ^ "105-year-old Karnataka environmentalist Saalumarada Thimmakka on BBC's list of top 100 women". The News Minute. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  3. ^ Sharma, Maya (2 July 2019). "107-Year-Old "Mother Of Trees" Spreads The Message Of Conservation". Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  4. ^ Sudevan, Praveen (28 March 2019). "Meet Thimmakka, the 107-year-old Padma Shri awardee known for her environmental work". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  5. ^ "About Thimmakka". Thimmakka Foundation. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  6. ^ PTI (16 March 2019). "Watch: When The "Mother Of Trees" Blessed President Ram Nath Kovind". Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  7. ^ "The 300 trees of Thimmakka and Chikkanna". Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d A biography of Thimmakka is provided by B. R. Srikanth. "Thimmakka's Green Crusade Transforms Heat-And-Dust Hulikal". Online Edition of The Outlook, dated 1999-05-03. © Outlook Publishing (India) Private Limited. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  9. ^ "About Thimmakka". Online Webpage of Thimmakka's Resources for Environmental Education. Archived from the original on 31 December 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  10. ^ "ಕೇಂದ್ರೀಯ ವಿಶ್ವವಿದ್ಯಾಲಯದಿಂದ ಸಾಲುಮರದ ತಿಮ್ಮಕ್ಕ ಸೇರಿ ಐವರಿಗೆ ಗೌರವ ಡಾಕ್ಟರೇಟ್" [Central University announces Honorary Doctorate for Thimmakka and others]. Suvarna news (in Kannada). 21 September 2020. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Thimmakka started to plant banyan trees to overcome the grief of being childless: Priyanjana Dutta. "Woman plants trees, village thrives". Online webpage of Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  12. ^ Sudevan, Praveen (28 March 2019). "Each tree is like a child to me: Thimmakka". The Hindu. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  13. ^ a b c d Planting of tree by Thimmakka and the Chikkaiah is mentioned by Malini Shankat. "A mother's love". Online webpage of ©2004 Society for Environmental Communications. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  14. ^ Das, Ria (4 June 2019). "How 107-Year-Old Thimakka Convinced Karnataka CM To Not Axe Trees". SheThePeople TV. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Unsung heroes' hour of glory". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 26 March 2006. Archived from the original on 9 August 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  16. ^ 2016, BBC, Retrieved 26 November 2016
  17. ^ Deepa Ganesh. "Mother of 400". Online webpage of The Hindu, dated 2003-12-01. 2003, The Hindu. Archived from the original on 21 April 2005. Retrieved 23 May 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  18. ^ Srinivasa, Srikanth (16 January 2000). "Thimmakka... goes to IFFI". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 8 June 2000. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  19. ^ "109-year-old activist Saalumarada Thimmaka undergoes hip surgery". Deccan Herald. 10 December 2020. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  20. ^ "105-Year-Old Woman From Karnataka Who Planted More Than 8000 Trees Is In BBC's Most Influential Women List". 24 November 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  21. ^ "NRI accused of misusing Thimmakka's name". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  22. ^ "Ashoka Innovators For The Public: Ritu Primlani". ASHOKA INNOVATORS FOR THE PUBLIC.
  23. ^ "Police in mufti at show scares comedian". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  24. ^ "'Saalumarada' Thimmakka ill, in financial mess". Retrieved 14 February 2020.