Village Of Books: Maharashtra's Bhilar Is India's Answer To Britain's Hay

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Village Of Books: Maharashtra's Bhilar Is India's Answer To Britain's Hay

75 artists have designed 25 mini libraries that house about 15,000 books in Marathi.

New Delhi:  Soon, Maharashtra's Satara, popular for its large-scale strawberry exports, will be on many book lovers' bucket list. Bhilar village in Satara is going to be India's first 'village of books', a concept inspired by Britain's Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh town known for its book stores and literature festivals. It all started with a lone bookstore in 1962. By 1970s, Hay-on-Wye village was bursting with bookshops. The 'Town of Books' as it came to be known as attracted bibliophiles and famous authors from across the globe.

A five-hour drive from Mumbai, located near picturesque Panchagani and British-era hill station Mahabaleshwar, Bhilar is blessed with lush greenery, pleasant climate and surrounded by hundreds of acres of strawberry farms which pink up in winter. 

Seventy five artists have creatively designed 25 spots which are like mini libraries that house about 15,000 books in Marathi. On offer will be fiction, poetry, books on religion, women and children, history, environment, folk literature, biographies and autobiographies. 

Conceptualised by Education Minister Vinod Tawde and the Marathi Bhasha department, the project, Pustakanche Gaon, will be inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on May 4.

Besides a treasure of classics, there will be comfortable chairs, tables, decorated umbrellas and glass cupboards to create a perfect reading atmosphere. The project was conceived in February 2015 on Marathi Language Day. 

"We are now opening it to all those who love the language and want to explore literature. All these books are going to be available free of cost to the readers," Mr Tawde said. 

The minister said that the government is also planning to hold summer literature festivals in the village as a lot of tourists visit Panchgani and neighbouring destinations during this time. These festivals will comprise sessions with authors, poets, presentations, teaching workshops, exhibitions, discussions with literary biggies and other literature-culture programmes.

(With inputs from PTI)

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