They say she minced no words in criticising the establishment for what she saw were its shortcomings.
"She was not just a journalist who would report a story. She would go behind the story. And she would stand by the people behind the story. That's what was unique about Gauri," senior lawyer BT Venkatesh, who has handled cases for the murdered journalist, told NDTV.
People who have known Ms Lankesh say she was a true democrat who criticised the system wherever she found fault so that it could improve. But this led to her making a wide range of enemies across the system.
"Great number of cases she used to refer on a regular basis, apart from her own cases of defamation," Mr Venkatesh said.
Police said the 55-year-old journalist was shot from close range; three bullets hit her, one on the forehead.
Born in 1962, Ms Lankesh was the older daughter of P Lankesh, who edited Kannada weekly tabloid 'Lankesh Patrike' for two decades since 1980. The paper ran investigative pieces and left a big impact on Karnataka politics.
Ms Lankesh's siblings -- Kavitha Lankesh and Indrajit Lankesh -- are film and theatre professionals.
The Bengaluru journalist started her own Kannada tabloid, 'Gauri Lankesh Patrike', in 2005 after quitting as editor of 'Lankesh Patrike'. Ms Lankesh had often said in public forums that attacking people just because they have a different ideology would do no good to the country.
Like her father, Ms Lankesh's hard-hitting work drew a lot of flak from people who she had criticised. In November 2016, she had been found guilty of defamation in a case involving Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentarian Prahlad Joshi and had been sentenced to six months in jail. She was out on bail.