Hans Timpner meets our GTI India community

Our Director, Hans Timpner, recently traveled through India. In India, he met many of our GTI India community members, and also planted many trees!

Hans was happy to share some of his trip’s highlights:

I flew to Mumbai in order to meet with Mrinalini Nigde, who is the ever-so-active Coordinator of GTI in India. Mumbai as a city is completely different from New Delhi, so it was interesting to get to know another part of India that I had not been to before.

Meeting with Chhaya Taralekar
The first visit that was arranged, was to visit a very kind lady by the name of Chhaya Taralekar, who lives on the 19th floor of an apartment building in Mumbai. It is amazing to just walk into her place and feel the warmth and equilibrium there.

Chhaya uses her kitchen waste as compost in her green center on the balcony. Here, she grows a variety of different herbs and spices, and even some trees. When they (the trees) reach a certain height, she takes them out through the elevator downstairs, and then, across the road into a piece of public land where she has permission to grow trees.

Chhaya shows Hans her balcony garden

Wow! I was so amazed about this setup. She gave me a book that explains her activities, which I sent on to Francisca Gusmão, because I am sure she can make good use of it by giving small stories about how to live ecologically balanced in a 19th-floor apartment building. We parted as good friends, and Chhaya promised to make a variety of short videos explaining some of the ways how to make the kitchen waste into fertile mulch for plants, and how to plant certain herbs and spices. We did not plant any trees together, but I got to know all the areas where Chhaya is planting and more, so it was a very good day!

Mr. Dharmendra Kar from Mumbai, the most active tree planter
The next day, we met Mr. Dharmendra Kar, an incredibly friendly and really active person, who showed us a number of sites where he had planted trees in the area of Mumbai. I met him first online, some two years ago when we had a Zoom meeting of the Maha Space Eco-village group that was very active at that time, and he showed and explained to us the system he sometimes uses of Seedballs. Very effective!

When you follow Dharmendra Kar on Facebook, you will agree with me that he is extremely active with tree planting, and almost daily, has a different place where he motivates people to plant trees. I am most sure that he will be next in line for a Decoration of the state he lives in, for being so incredibly proactive when it comes to nature, preserving, re-generating, and planting anywhere in the area of Mumbai and beyond!

Dharmendra Kar


Mr. & Mrs. Raghunath Dhole
The next day, Dharmendra Kar and Mrinalini joined, and together we drove to Pune, some 192 km away from Mumbai, equaling some 6 hours of driving.

There, we met with the great family Dhole, who has a nursery in the countryside. Quite an exciting trip, using the best of modern technology (GPS) to go to such a nice place over some really interesting dirt roads.

We were looked after like visiting royalty, with the best homemade cooking one can imagine and an overnight stay in the brand-new guest house. Here, in the future, the Raghunaths hope to attract visitors from around the world and help them to learn about the amazing systems of planting, based on old Indian traditions.

The next morning, we took a tour around the property and got an introduction from Mr. Raghunath himself about his style of planting trees. Then, the four of us planted a tree to commemorate our visit. Our driver had to drive out by himself, due to heavy rainfall. We walked back, and a part of the way, I got a ride on the back of a kind motorcycle driver!

Hans on the back of a motorcycle

Important to note: Mr. Raghunath Dhole was recently awarded a Maharashtra State decoration, the Vanashree award, for his remarkable work in the field of tree planting and conservation. The award ceremony will take place on the 25. March 2023. We congratulate Mr. Dhole for this important recognition of the work and vision he has.

Planting a tree together


Mrs. Shandya Chougule
My next trip took me from Pune to Satara to meet Mrs. Sandhya Chougule, who I have had contact with from early on as she was the first Mega Planter to report and dedicate her trees planted to the GTI. Sandhya is also an ex-school teacher and ex-school principal.

We reached Satara approximately 4 hours after we left Pune. We were greeted by some of the children, Sandhya, and some of the teachers and friends. It was quite an emotional welcome, as our names were written on the floor, flowers were strewn everywhere, and on us as well, as a sign of respect and welcome. I was sooo overwhelmed to see the effort that went into the preparation for our visit. We all got looked after so well, such as food, drink, and most of all such enthusiasm to make the welcome great for us!

The area where we were welcomed used to be a local dump area, and Sandhya invested lots of energy to clean it up and make it a really nice place for the children to have a classroom there, as well as a library. I must say, they are in need of a good renovation and some new furniture, and some items to be used for the school.

Please contact me at for details if you feel you would like to know more about what Sandhya and the children need, and if you feel like supporting her project.

Our little group decided to sponsor a bus trip for this group of children to go to Mr. Raghunath’s nursery in Pune, to see firsthand how easy it is to grow new trees and how a nursery helps the environment by supplying many different types of trees.

Later on, we went to the outskirts of Satara with Sandhya and her sun, and we saw the place she has put aside to grow an area of approximately 1 acre of land in the way Mr. Raghunath advises on planting a Sacred Grove Forest.

We all brought 4 trees from Mr. Raghunath’s nursery and together, we planted them and dedicated them to the start of a great forest in this area and the strong connection between GTI India and GTI itself. Thank you so much, my dear Sandhya, and all of you children, that welcomed us for some incredible memories.

Sandhya and the children welcoming Hans and the GTI India team

Thank you very much for these stories and for taking us on the journey with you, Hans! A very big THANK YOU to our GTI India community for taking so good care of Hans while he was in India, and for sharing your knowledge and wisdom.



Please share this. Thank you!


  1. Anrich Bester

    You are quite an adventurer, Hans!

    Thank you GTI India for taking good care of our director! 😀

    • Mrinalini

      You are welcome. I am delighted to see that we are growing, learning, sharing and most importantly planting togetjer as Global Tree Initiative family.


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