Bhilar: The First Book Village In India Is A Reader’s Paradise

Bhilar is known as the village of books. Yes! A village of books- what more could a reader want? Sandwiched between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani is India’s first village of books- Bhilar. Previously known for its cultivation of fresh and delicious strawberries, today Bhilar is known as the hometown for earnest readers.  Filled with cultural appreciation and love for literature, this book village in India is a must-visit. 

The inspiration behind this village is Britain’s Welsh town, Hay-On-Wye, known for its bookstores and literature festivals. The Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha and the then education and Cultural affairs minister Vinod Tawde were the ones to introduce this idea. On 4th May 2017, India officially launched its first book village. 

In the village, 25-30 spots are designed beautifully and turned into a reader’s hotspot. These include households, temples, libraries, and other public places. A reader can come by and grab a book to read for as long as their heart desires and then keep it back for others. Each household here has approximately 300-400 books. These houses are endorsed by creative and colorful murals and wall-arts that indicate the genre of the books they stores. 

Books in a shelf

Being an enthusiast reader, I decided to take a trip to this first book village in India to see for myself what it had stored. And it didn’t disappoint me. Sitting among the strawberries with my favourite Marathi author to read was an unforgettable experience.  Currently, the village has housed over 15000 Marathi books and plans to add 25000 more in English, Hindi and, Gujarati. Bhilar also hosts programs and meet-and-greets for the enthusiastic reader to meet their favourite authors or to celebrate the culture and literature. ‘Dosti Pustakanshi’ and ‘Vachan Prerana Din’ are some of those. 

The motive behind setting up this village was to imbibe reading habits and rekindle the interest for our rich literary culture and heritage amongst the young generation. Tourism was also encouraged in this village. Some of the books here were rare and vintage so, a lot of students and tourists came here for academic purposes. Along with strawberry farming, tourism increased the revenue of the village, making it prosperous.

Walking through a village made of aisles of books from your favourite genre is a reader’s dream come true. In the era of e-books and kindle, Bhilar takes us back to the time of libraries and flipping through stained and scribbled pages. In the end, a bowl of fresh strawberries and your favourite author to read is always a good day. 

Also Read: 7 Eco-Friendly Places In India That You Should Visit After The Pandemic

Himani Naik

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