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India’s First Book Village

The Times of India – BHILAR (MAHARASHTRA): “A cosy sofa and wicker chairs overlooking a beautiful valley, the quiet of a village, and lush strawberry fields all around — what more could a romantic soul wish for? It’s the setting for a great novel, perhaps even a great travel story. But this isn’t fiction; this is the living room of Bhiku Bhilare of Bhilar village, Maharashtra. But it offers much more than a picture-perfect setting — it also doubles up as a library. Until recently, the village, just a few kilometres from the picturesque hill stations of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, was known for growing the best strawberries in the country. Now, it is a unique ‘village of books’ with 25 villagers having given up a part of their homes to set up open libraries. The idea was inspired by the Welsh village of Hay-on-Wye, which is informally known as the ‘town of books’, and has scores of second-hand and antiquarian bookstores. But the Maharashtra government has made the concept their own and expanded its scope. Its Marathi language department’s experts meticulously put together a collection of over 30,000 books organised under various genres. These were then distributed among the home libraries, as well as public places like temples and schools. Each home is allotted books pertaining to one genre and identified with street signs and wall paintings…”

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