A hamlet in Satara district of Maharashtra, popular for its strawberries is all set to embrace the tag of India's first 'village of books', a concept inspired by Britain's Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh town known for its book stores and literature festivals.
Bhilar village located near picturesque hill station Panchagani will see this state government initiative being inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on May 4.
Led by Education minister Vinod Tawde, this project was undertaken by the Marathi Bhasha department wherein 25 artistically decorated locations around the village will turn into reader hot spots with display of books ranging from literature, poetry, religion, women and children, history, environment, folk literature, biographies and autobiographies to festival specials.
"Around 15,000 books (in Marathi) would be made available in the village premises. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will inaugurate the initiative 'pustakanche gaon' on May 4," Tawde told reporters here yesterday.
Also, the state has provided several facilities such as chairs, tables, decorated umbrellas and glass cupboards to local villagers to help them enhance the reading experience of literary connoisseurs visiting there, he said.
The state government had announced its plans to launch such a book village and literary festivals concept in Maharashtra two years back on February 27, 2015 – Marathi Language Day.
"Now we are opening it to all who have a love for language and literature. All these books are going to be available free of cost to the readers," Tawde said.
Anybody can pick up a book of his/her choice, read for as long as they want and keep it back for others, he said.
The minister said that the government is also planning to hold literary festivals in the village in the summers since a lot of tourists visit Panchgani and neighbouring destinations for vacationing during this time.
These festivals will comprise talk with authors, poets, reading sessions, presentation of essays, teaching workshops, exhibitions etc where people can participate freely, he added.