Curling up with a book by the window on a rainy afternoon is a popular pastime for many residents and visitors to Shimla during the monsoon season. This year, with rain pouring down and mist shrouding the hills, they have a treasure trove of books to explore.
The National Book Trust (NBT) in collaboration with the Himachal Pradesh State Department of Language, Art, and Culture organised a nine-day long Shimla Book Fair from June 25 to July 3 in the capital. The event is a regular occurrence in the state capital but was not held in the past few years due to the pandemic.
Book lovers visited the book fair at the historic Gaiety Theatre and the Ridge Maidan on The Mall Road, in the heart of Shimla. Over 60 stalls featuring nearly 45 Indian publishers have been installed to display books across a variety of genres at discounted prices.
In addition, a series of author interactions, cultural activities and folk performances allowed tourists to experience a slice of local culture. The book fair this year is one of the many events being held to celebrate India's 75th anniversary of independence.
The NBT director said that as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, this book fair included book reading sessions, cultural performances, drawing competitions and other discussions.
“For nine days, it would attract many readers. We have 45 publishers from India and 75 have been installed and we have different sections including the titles of freedom fighters and Children’s literature here. We are getting a very good response,” said Yuvraj Malik, Director of NBT.
Tourists were also fascinated with the cultural dances and rich cultural heritage on display. The third day saw a session of literary discourses focusing on popular folklore and regional literature of Himachal Pradesh. Seminars on local history and culture were organised for children and tourists.
Books are available in all Indian languages and in English on a wide range of subjects and genres.
Himachal Pradesh Education Minister Govind Singh Thakur inaugurated the festival and said that events such as this were vital in encouraging the youth to develop a reading habit.
This book fair also put local publishers and writers at the forefront and promoted learning more about the community on a deeper level and from people who live in Shimla.