Mahabaleshwar, Wai And Panchgani Diaries Part 4 – 3rd March 2021 to 9th March 2021.

Pachgani City Tour and a visit to the Village of Books. 8th March.

The next day after an early breakfast, I set out to explore the city of Panchgani. As I had covered most of the places on the previous day of the tour, this was more of loitering around in the bylanes of this beautiful hill station.

It was an lazy day with max temperatures around 15 deg. Being a hill station , Panchgani has a charm of its own with lots of old bungalows and sceneries around. One thing to look out for, however, is the monkey population. You’ll find them everywhere and if you’re not careful enough, they can even steal your baggage. I almost lost my camera bag, but was lucky enough that the gentleman threw it away when he found that it was empty.

After roaming around for a while and soaking in the beautiful sights around, it was time for a short break. Remember, this was the period when the second lockdown was just opened. There was not much crowd around and the streets were relatively empty. While I was sitting on a bench by the street, I met a local and got chatting with him. It was during this conversation, that he suggested I visit a place that is unique to Maharashtra. So after a quick break, I set off to see what this place was all about.

Pustakancha Gaav (The Village of Books) – Bhillar.

Spread over two kilometres, Bhilar is located at a distance of eight kilometres from Panchgani. It is situated just about 17 kilometres away from Mahabaleshwar.

Pustakanch Gaav (English: Village of Books) is a special library in Bhilar, Maharashtra that opened on May 4, 2017. The initiative was conceptualized and led by Vinod Tawde, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Marathi Language and inaugurated by Devendra Fadnavis, Ex. Chief Minister of Maharashtra. This government initiative is inspired by Britain’s Hay-on-Wye, a notable Welsh town known for its book stores. Seventy-five artists from across India travelled to Bhilar to creatively design 25 locations that were shortlisted as reading spots and exhibition centres. These locations include a temple, two schools, several houses and homestays.

Pustakanch Gaav has 19 libraries exclusive to 19 genres, each library is designed and decorated by freelance artists, painters and professionals who believe in sending a strong social message through their artwork. They shaped and beautified the surroundings of the place with detailed murals, paintings and artworks that reflect the various themes of books, genres, just like demarcating types of books in a library.

For eg – a place that has books on Shivcharitra (life of Shivaji Maharaj), paintings of the fort and the warrior king have been created on the walls and for a building that has literature on saints, paintings of famous saints have been used to adorn it. The 25 premises in the village have 25 different paintings.

As it was afternoon when I reached Bhillar, there was no one on the street to ask my way around. So I could not get into any library and spend time reading. I just took a walk inside the village and enjoyed a quiet walk soaking in on the surroundings. I plan to visit again and spend some time with the books.

It was 3 pm in the afternoon and a rumble in my stomach reminded me that I had not eaten since morning. I stopped over for a light lunch and headed back to the main bus stop which was around 2 km from the main village. It was now time for the last destination of the day and the tour – Parsin Point.

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