Baba Fakhruddin Suharwardy was the king of an Iranian province, before renouncing his kingdom and becoming a Sufi saint. After several years spent serving his spiritual guru, he sought a place to settle in. According to an old tale, his guru gave him a dry twig and directed him to travel till he found a place where the twig would bloom into a big plant. Baba Fakhruddin travelled far and one day, he planted the twig and slept under a tree, only to awake and see that it had become a beautiful plant. That place was Penukonda.
Like the dry twig of the legend, the once dry hills of Penukonda have been transformed into a sea of green through the re-forestation efforts of SEDS. Planting and helping plant over 2 million Tamarind, Neem, Pongamia, and Jatropha trees, SEDS has effectively converted barren land into a veritable forest. Supporting the planting activity, SEDS's watershed management techniques ensure that the water stores remain even during seasons of drought. SEDS pioneered the restoration of old tanks and traditional water bodies such as farm ponds, as well as creating new watersheds in the area. Villagers who once cut down trees indiscriminately have realized the importance of the green cover and have become the best guardians of Penukonda's trees.
Baba Fakhruddin's mausoleum still stands in Penukonda today, among all the trees.
[The article originally written by Amit Manikoth, for SEDS's 30 years celebration. This is simply a reproduction.]