Dec 8, 2012

Chikkanna & Thimmakka's Saalu-Maragalu

I heard about Salumaradha Thimmakka late 90s. Thimmakka was being mentioned in newspapers and TV. Thimmakka and her husband from a village near Bangalore had planted and grown 300 trees. Thimakka had been honored with the National Citizen's Award in 1995 and then the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Award in 1997. I never thought of finding out the location of the trees and visit them until I read the article The 300 trees of Thimmakka and Chikkanna. 8 months after reading the article....

Aug 12, 2012
It was past noon when we left Huliyur and we reached Magadi just after 1 'O clock. A case of bad planning- I had not noted the directions nor could I recall the village names. Our inquiries at Magadi was a waste of time. We decided to take Magadi-Solur road. The road was pot-hole riddled, the drive was a real drag. Deepak noticed the tree stumps lining the road. Huge trees were cut down recently. We were driving to see an avenue of trees through a road of dead trees!
We reached Bangalore-Mangalore highway. At a junction we got directions and headed towards Kudur. I realized we should have taken Magadi-Kudur road, we would have saved time and fuel too. Anyway, we stopped three or four times to check if we were heading in the right directions. Finally It was established that the trees were planted on both sides of the road connecting Kudur and Hulikal villages. Actually this road connects to Tumkur.
Here are the trees.
children of a childless couple
That's Thimmakka's house, it was locked. In fact, couple of days earlier Thimmakka was hospitalized at Bengaluru.

This is the Hulikal end of the avenue.

Trying to imagine how Chikkanna and Thimmakka labored to plant, water and protect each of their babies. Today, people here enjoy the benefit of traveling in comfort.

A tunnel created by trees.

Its not just people who benefit. Insects, birds, squirrels, monkeys and other animals have made their homes here.

While traveling on this road one cannot miss the amazing view of Shivagange hill. It looks like a sleeping bull.

A closer look at the sleeping bull Shivagange. It's left to the viewer's imagination.

That's Bairavadurga hill. My plan was to climb the hill to see the fort but for some reason we dropped the plan for the day. I'll be back here one day.

During our inquiries to locate Saalumara, I could feel people's indifferent attitude to Chikkanna's and Thimmakka's contribution to the local ecology and their achievement in life. One of the men even went to the extent that these trees were planted by Forest Department and the childless couple has taken the credit... Aagh, what a comment! Anyway, one needs to ignore such stupid remarks and not react to them. Long Live Chikkanna's and Thimmakka's Saalumaragalu.
I remember reading about two other people who labored to grow trees just for the love of them. One was a man from Kerala who had grown hundreds of trees over several acres, there was even a large pond to store rainwater. The man had his house in the jungle and lived with this wife and children. He was so protective about his forest that nobody was allowed to pick or move even fallen branches. The other man was a some where up in North India. That man had afforested several acres of desert land almost single handed. Of course there are many more people who have contributed to Nature in their own way without expecting anything in return. To know about such people, visit Good News India. The site has a page dedicated to Thimmakka's Saalumara- They raised trees to fill a personal void. Do read it.

Saalumara Coordinates: 13°7'24"N   77°9'14"E

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