We've stumbled upon something extremely exciting! For all the bibliophiles out there, there is a village full of books in every nook and corner, right under our nose (in Maharashtra) that you must check out- and we're not even making this up!
We love to travel (wanderlusting is our favourite hobby), and we've often made lists of places we'd love to visit. On one such list exists a little town in Wales called Hay-on-Wye, a village of books. But to our surprise, closer to home, there exists a book village in a hamlet wedged between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, named Bhilar- India's very own Book Village. The village has been rechristened to 'Pustakanch Gaav' by the Government of Maharashtra. This initiative began on May 4, 2017 with the sole aim of promoting culture, tourism, literacy amongst the youth and the local language, Marathi. Seventy five artists from across India traveled to Bhilar to creatively design 25 locations that were shortlisted as reading spots and exhibition centers. These include temples, two schools, several house and homestays.
They have created spaces through the village, in streets, in people’s homes and made them into libraries, giving everyone access to reading. There are literary events and reading sessions that are regularly held here. So far, there are about 20 libraries in total that house books from about 20 different genres.
In the initial phase soon after its launch, only Marathi books were available to read. They have been tirelessly trying to bring in a wide variety of Hindi and English books to become more widely accessible to the people who visit. With this initiative, there exists a ray of hope for an increased focus on education and literacy, because where there are books, there should be readers.