Most people can count the number of plants they have grown on their fingertips. Tulasi Gowda planted over 1 lakh trees! Despite not receiving any formal education, today, she is considered the “Encyclopedia of the Forest”.
Tulasi Gowda – Early Life
Tualsi Gowda was born in 1944 in the Honnalli village in Uttara Kanada. Born to a poor tribal family, her exact date of birth is unknown. Her father died when she was just about 2 years old. Her mother could not afford to send her to school and instead, when she was old enough, her mother took her along when she worked as a day laborer in a local nursery.
Tulasi was wedded to Govinda Gowda at a very early age. He was much older than her and passed away when she was in her 50s.
How Does Tulasi Gowda Become The Tree Goddess?
At the nursery, Tulasi was given the responsibility of caring for seeds to be grown and harvested for the state’s Forestry Department. In particular, she was responsible for the Agasur seedbed.
Tulasi continued working in the nursery as a daily ware worker till she was about 35 years old. Her in-depth knowledge of plants and efforts towards conservation earned her a permanent position at the nursery. She continued working in this permanent position until she retired.
In all, Tulasi Gowda has spent over 60 years working for the Karnataka Forest Department. During this time, she cared for land covering 5 tiger reserves, 30 wildlife sanctuaries, 15 conservation reserves and 1 community reserve.
In addition to planting saplings, she worked towards protecting the forests from forest fires and poachers. She is known for her innate ability to identify mother trees in a forest and her expertise in harvesting seeds from these mother trees required to regrow entire plant species.
Tulasi Gowda Awards And Recognition
Gowda has been felicitated with many awards during her life. The world knows her as the ‘Encyclopedia of the Forests’ while her tribe gave her the moniker, ‘Tree Goddess’.
In 1986, she received the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Award for her pioneering contribution towards afforestation and wasteland development.
In 1999, she was awarded the second-highest civilian honor in Karnataka, the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award. This is also known as the Kannada Rajyotsava Award.
In 2020, she was given the Padma Shri award by the Government of India. This is the fourth-highest national award for Indian citizens.
The Legacy Of Tulasi
Tulasi is believed to have planted over 1 lakh saplings on her own. She has invaluable knowledge about plants and their usage. Unfortunately, very little of this has been documented and her lack of formal education limits her communication skills. She continues to share her knowledge with children in the village.