Bhilar - Village of Books
India's first ever ‘Pustakanch Gaav’ or 'Village of Books' Image Credit:

Nestled halfway between Panchgani and the hill station of Mahabaleshwar in the Indian state of Maharashtra, is a unique village – India’s first ever ‘village of books.’

Bhilar in Maharashtra is an entire village dedicated to just books called ‘Pustakanch Gaav’, which literally translates to ‘Village of Books’.

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Before 2017, the small village in Maharashtra, Bhilar, was only known for its strawberry fields. But in 2016 the village was chosen for restoration and the focus shifted towards books. The entire village was transformed much like ‘Hay-on-Wye’, a book town in Wales, United Kingdom.

While reports about the literary village went viral when it opened in 2017, the village is back in the news, after the number of books increased in their collection, while also attracting tourists and book lovers.

According to a recent post by The Better India, an India digital platform focused on positive stories from India, the village went from having a collection of around 20, 000 books to now having a collection of over 35,000 books.

Bhilar 'Village of Books'
A wall painting in the 'Village of Books' in Bhilar, Maharashtra Image Credit: Maha Info Centre/X

There is another reason tourists who love art visit this village. Around 75 artists were commissioned by the government to create murals on the walls, each depicting a specific genre, where the books were stored. The project also included transforming around 35 homes in the village into reading hubs, where books of different genres could be stored as well. The collection spans from poetry, history, and even autobiographies, according to The Better India post.

Overtime the number of books and tourists grew and by 2023, the village saw over 1,500,000 visitors, with around 100 to 200 tourists flocking the libraries every day.

The village also has vibrant signboards and maps to help tourists, book lovers and researchers navigate better. Located three and a half hours from Pune, the easiest way to get to the village is via a taxi.

One visitor commented on The Better India’s post saying, “Been there and loved the vibe. Even a small local eatery had a dedicated reading nook which was the highlight of the trip.”