India’s First Village of Books (‘Pustakancha Gaav’) at Bhilar: A Bibliophile’s Paradise
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Even though technology has made a lot of progress in the sphere of e-books and digital media, books hold a certain charm that cannot be replicated by an LCD screen. The entire experience of reading a book, from flipping the crisp pages to inhaling the smell of the paper, is way more joyful and satisfying than using a device. Books and literature have played a major role in history; they contain the wisdom of the forefathers, tales of mighty civilizations, and the teachings of great saints and visionaries. Books are the fundamental sources of knowledge and reading is a habit that directly contributes to personality development, by improving one’s vocabulary, linguistic abilities, and oratory skills. This is why the government of Maharashtra has taken an initiative to convert the village of Bhilar into India’s first book village or ‘Pustakancha Gaav‘.
The village of Bhilar has always been one of the popular places to visit near Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, owing to its famous strawberry festival and beautiful landscapes. With this transformation of the village into a paradise of books, the allure of Bhilar has multiplied. Here are some of the key highlights of this village of books that make it the perfect destination for a reader’s expedition.
1. More than 15,000 Books to Peruse
The concept of this village of books is inspired from Hay-On-Wye, the famous book village in Wales, UK. However, the book village of Bhilar is a community driven endeavor instead of being focused on booksellers. The villagers have opened their homes to serve as mini-libraries that will display books from different genres. 25 such mini-libraries will be set up at public places, temples, residences, and schools around the village. These libraries will hold more than 15,000 books in Marathi which anyone can pick up and read for free.
2. A Large Variety of Books
The primary goal of this initiative is to preserve and promote the literature and books of Maharashtra. This region has been the birthplace of brave warriors, brilliant poets, and skilled storytellers. By making the books readily available to the locals and the tourists, the libraries at Bhilar will ensure that the tales of these impressive personalities remain immortal. The huge collection of books will include volumes from around 25 different literary themes. This sheer variety of books ensures that every reader will find something that appeals to their taste.
3. A Serene Environment for Reading
The libraries at Bhilar have been designed to provide the perfect environment for reading. There are well-furnished reading rooms where one can spend hours engrossed in the marvelous books. The books are available completely free of cost, you can pick up any tome of your choice; the only condition is that you return it at the end of the day. From sturdy shelves to exhibit the collections to comfortable bean bags for the readers to lounge about, the government has left no stone unturned to make Bhilar an attraction for all bibliophiles.
4. Opportunity to Meet Veteran Writers
Not only will the village showcase the award-winning titles of Marathi writers, it will also offer a chance to meet the veteran writers who are legends in the field of literature. Special events will be organised during the Diwali, Christmas, and summer vacations where the readers can meet their favorite writers. Each of these events will span an entire week, providing sufficient time to the tourists to plan their reader’s expeditions. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the creators of the gems of Indian literature in person.
5. Language & Literature Workshops and Games
Apart from the library facilities, various exhibitions, poetry reading sessions, and book publication events will be held throughout the year. Budding writers can benefit from the reading and writing workshops that are being planned. Furthermore, an element of fun will be added by word games and competitions that will be organised on a regular basis. Although the initial phase will include only Marathi books, plans are to expand the collection to other languages like Hindi and English. This will allow the readers to develop a grasp over multiple languages, while having a good time.
The village of books offers an offbeat travel experience like no other. It is a great way to explore a new place and to rekindle the habit of reading. Bhilar represents the priceless treasure contained in books and provides an opportunity to celebrate the feats of Indian writers. This interaction between the generations will preserve the old literature and will also give birth to new thoughts.