Tulsi Gowda: When a Barefoot ‘Tree Goddess’ Shone at the Padma Awards 2020

Tulsi Gowda received Padma Shri from President Kovind barefoot

Karnataka's Tulsi Gowda, who has impeccable knowledge of every tree species in her forests, received the Padma Shri from President Ram Nath Kovind. Here's why her picture is going viral.

Karnataka’s Tulsi Gowda, a member of the Halakki Vokkalu tribal community, was conferred the Padma Shri Award in 2021 for her relentless, decades-long efforts to protect forests.

This ‘encyclopedia of the forest’ has an incredible knowledge of nearly every tree species in her forests, gained through a lifetime of service. She knows every little detail of any plant and can even recognise its condition by a simple touch.

Here’s the video of a barefoot 72-year-old Tulsi approaching the dais and receiving the honour from President Ram Nath Kovind:

Her life has not been a bed of roses. Hailing from the tribal community in Ankola, she never attended school and was married off by age 12. But once she got to work in the forest, there was no turning back.

Tulsi worked as a day labourer for the Karnataka forest department from a very young age, which eventually gave her a permanent job. Even after retiring, she continues her efforts to revive forest covers by planting native trees. She spent a significant part of her life protecting the forest cover and continues to do so today.

Tulsi is undoubtedly one of the greatest naturalists the world has ever seen.

Watch her journey here: