India's 105-year-old mother of trees

Story highlights

  • Woman planted nearly 300 trees in rural India
  • Adopted a son who is passionate about conservation

(CNN)Being unable to have children is a heartbreaking situation for anyone who wants to conceive.

But in rural India, infertility carries an added stigma for women, who can be outcast from their families and society.
    When Saalumarada Thimmakka and her husband Sri Bikkala Chikkayya found themselves childless after 25 years of marriage, she dealt with it in an unusual way.
    The illiterate farm laborer from Karnataka, southern India, planted hundreds of trees, which the couple nurtured, watered and cared for "as children."
    "It was my fate to not have any children," Thimmakka told CNN. "Because of that, we planned to plant trees and raise them and get blessings. We have treated the trees as our children."

    Green hero

    The woodland is said to number almost 300 trees -- a remarkable achievement in an arid, dusty landscape with little rainfall. It stretches for four kilometers both sides of the road from Thimmakka's village of Hulikal and Kudur, the next.