These artists added life to walls of Bhilar village
Previously known only for its strawberries, the nondescript village has 25 public reading spots — three temples, two schools, seven houses and several lodges and homestays spread on a stretch of 2 km in Bhilar village.Updated: May 06, 2018 00:52 IST
Bhilar, near Panchgani, shot to limelight last year for being the country’s first village of books.
Previously known only for its strawberries, the nondescript village has 25 public reading spots — three temples, two schools, seven houses and several lodges and homestays spread on a stretch of 2 km in Bhilar village.
The walls in the village are beautifully painted by 50 artists from Thane and Navi Mumbai.
Since the inauguration of the village last year, the footfalls have crossed 20,000.
Education minister Vinod Tawde felicitated the artists for their contribution in beautifying the village of books.
Swatva, an artist group from Thane, spent three days last year to paint 25 theme walls.
The artists also have agreed to paint another four walls soon.
“It was not an easy task as it is a spiral road that went uphill. The coordination and commitment of all artists ensured we complete the 6,500 sq ft canvas within three days,” said Shripad Bhalerao, co-founder of Swatva.
When they were initially approached for this project Swatva made optimum use of social networking sites to spread word about the project.
“We got 200 responses from across Maharashtra but on the assigned date, 75 artists participated. Among these 30 were from Thane and 20 from Navi Mumbai, rest from Pune and other parts of the city. The government provided us materials and we all used our creativity to come up with different ideas that would go well with each theme,” added Bhalerao.
For a place that has books on the life of Shivaji Maharaj, paintings of fort and the warrior king have been created on the walls.
A building that has literature on saints, artists painted portraits of famous saints on the wall. A collage of author’s names and cover page of books have been painted on the wall of the building housing books on popular authors.
Some walls have caricatures giving a humorous touch to the place.
Artist Mahesh Anjarlekar said, “It was for the first time we were preparing such murals on walls. It was a fantastic experience. We prepared scaffold to paint houses that were 20-foot-tall, such heights were a challenge.”
A year after they painted the village walls, the artists visited the village. They were happy to see that the residents had maintained it well. “This was encouraging. The locals supported while we painted the walls. They gave us strawberries from their fields,” said Anjarlekar.
He added that the response from tourists and visitors was good.
Chandrakant Hulawale, 52, another artist, said, “We had to ensure that the common man could relate to the drawings. We were not used to painting on such a largescale. We also had to train the artists as painting on a rough surface is different from painting on a canvas.”