India’s first village of books will soon begin stocking publications in non-Marathi languages in a bid to attract visitors from other states. In May 2017, Bhilar in Maharashtra had become the only literary destination of its kind in the country after libraries, homes and other establishments began keeping Marathi books for all to read.
Now, the village of books will also offer publications in Hindi, Gujarati and English.
Here is an image shared on Twitter by a visitor to the village in December.
— Sameer Zantye (@sameerzantye) December 24, 2017
Inspired by Hay-on-Wye, the town of books in Wales, the project was an initiative by the Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha and state Education Minister Vinod Tawade. The idea was not just to promote the Marathi language and literature but also popularise the habit of reading.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Phadnavis declared Bhilar as India’s first Pustakanche Gaav, or Village of Books, on 4 May 2017, and it has over 15,000 books in Marathi for anybody who is interested.
The village’s appeal is now set to become wider with the move to stock books in other languages for tourists and visitors who cannot read Marathi.
All India Radio shared the development on Twitter.
India's FIRST Village of #Books aims to break language barrier!#Bhilar,in Maharashtra (Pustakanche Gaav) is all set to cross the language boundaries & add books of Gujarati,Hindi & English languages to the shelves catering to non-Marathi tourists
Know more about this village?? pic.twitter.com/qVeiFDZcQ6
— ALL INDIA RADIO (@AkashvaniAIR) March 12, 2018
Hay-on-Wye, which moved from having one single bookstore in the early 60s to being known as the ‘Town of Books’ by the 70s, is now the venue for a popular international literary fair. Held annually, the fair attracts thousands of book lovers from across the world.
Part of the strawberry country, Bhilar is located between the hill stations of Mahabaleswar and Panchgani in Satara district of Maharashtra. It is about 250 kms from Mumbai.
Here is how Dr Kunal Khemnar, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), describes Bhilar on Twitter.
Finest classical combination of strawberry and cream in Bhilar village in Mahabaleshwar in Satara district. It is also first 'Village of books' declared by Government of Maharashtra! Awesome idea to promote literary tourism:) pic.twitter.com/PkSjPAvNod
— Dr Kunal Khemnar (@DrKhemnar) February 28, 2018
A number of well-known writers from across the state are among those who have visited the village to get a feel of the unique ambience it has to offer.