Good news bookworms! India to get its own Hay-on-Wye-type Village of Books in Bhilar
There's good news for book lovers! Keeping up with its tradition of being a pioneer in several progressive initiatives, Maharashtra is all set to give India its first ‘Village of Books’.
Conceptualised on the lines of Hay-on-Wye in Welsh, England, the Bhilar village in Satara district of Maharashtra, 260 km from Mumbai, will house thousands of different books which will be available for people to read free of cost.
Bhilar, situated in the Sahyadri Hills near the famous Mahabaleshwar hill station, is also famous for the juicy strawberries. The new initiative has added one more feather in the cap of the village. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis will be inaugurating the Village of Books on 4 May.
“Bhilar, usually known for its strawberries, will have a new identity now. It will also be known worldwide as the Village of Books. This is the first of its kind initiative in the country. The village will be open for public from 4 May after the inauguration,” said Vinod Tawade, the minister for cultural affairs and Marathi language. He said that the village will have more than 15,000 different books.
Bhilar, situated between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, is a perfect destination for book lovers as it offers quiet and calm ambience to read at leisure. The residents of Bhilar too are elated to boast of a new identity and be a part of this unique initiative.
Tawade said that the government has provided bookshelves, cupboards, tables, chairs, umbrellas and also bin bags for the readers visiting Bhilar.
“Tourists and readers can read at 25 spots across in the village, including some houses, lodges, temples and public places. All these spots have been transformed into huge libraries. With this, the entire village has become a library in itself!” Tawade added.
More than 75 painters and volunteers of a Non-Governmental Organisation Swatva have decorated these 25 spots with different paintings. Books in 25 different literary forms will be available for the tourists and readers. These include stories, poetry, novels, biographies, religious books, tourism, women's literature, children’s literature, books on history, nature tourism et al.
Apart from this, an equally enriching and informative exhibition of 50 kinds of literature will also be a value addition for visitors.
The Village of Books was conceptualised in 2015 during the Marathi Language Day celebrations.
“Bhilar village was selected for the project due to the huge tourist footfall here. Since the village is already famous for strawberries and thousands of people from across the state visit Bhilar, it is the ideal place to start the initiative. Though it is based on the Hay-on-Wey concept, it has been adapted in such a way that it depicts Marathi culture,” Tawade said.
“Unlike Hay-on-Wye, books can be read free of cost and not for sale. And in Bhilar, the initiative is being promoted and implemented by native people with the help of the state government,” said Vinay Malvankar, the manager of State Council for Marathi.
Raghunath Gurav, a teacher from Bhilar who is actively involved in the development and implementation of the initiative said, “It will give a new identity to our village. The entire village is in celebration mode for the last one week. Many residents have offered their houses free of cost to keep the books. I hope the initiative will rejuvenate reading culture, which is vanishing slowly. As a teacher, it is really painful to witness this, but now the situation will change.”
It is remarkable that the tiny village with a population of around 3,000 has come forward with so much enthusiasm to be a part of the unique initiative.
“With the new initiative, Bhilar will hit the global map. We are very happy to be part of the first of its kind project in the country,” said Anil Bhilare, the sarpanch of the village.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen