There were signs pointing to the ‘Beatles Ashram’ as I kept walking on the sandy stretch after the clutter of buildings ended on the right side of Ram Jhula in Rishikesh. The building seemed to be consumed by the forest. There was a baba sitting with a disciple smoking a chillum. I was told that entry is not allowed anymore and that the ashram is abandoned.
After three days, my French roommate at a yoga ashram decided I should be shown the tricks in my own country and simply told me to jump inside over the walls when nobody was looking. We found an Israeli group too, once inside.
Rishikesh shot to prominence in the late 1960s (February 1968, to be precise) when The Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram for transindental meditation. Also known as the Liverpool Band Fab Four – John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr. They wrote more than 40 songs during their stay. Beatles’ Fans know that some of the songs ended up being a part of ‘The White Album’ and ‘Abbey Road’.
They practised meditation in the 84 meditation huts at the ashram retreat which are also called ‘Chaurasi Kutia’. Subsequently, hordes of westerners came searching for peace & enlightenment, giving birth to a hippie trail. The Maharashi Mahesh Yogi Ashram (Beatles Ashram) is located at a tranquil spot with the Ganga flowing close by.
The Beatles Cathedral Gallery
In 2012, a project was aimed at recreating interest in the abandoned Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ashram in Rishikesh. It was conceived by a Canadian artist, Pan Trinity Das and involved dozens of volunteers from all over the world. After 2 amazing weeks the project was shut down by park authorities.
The ashram remained closed for the three decades of 70s, 80s and 90s. It was subsequently taken over by the Uttarakhand Forest Department as a part of the Rajaji National Park.
Pictures of graffiti & colourful murals inside the many buildings of The Beatles Ashram.
The Good News!
The Beatles Ashram has been officially opened for tourists on 9th December 2015 and can be visited as part of International Yoga Festival 2016 held at Parmarth Niketan.
They’re introducing new nature and bird walks and there are also plans for meditation classes and a museum. A government official says ‘No one will be allowed to draw on the walls anymore.’ But artists can get permission and paint. There is also a proposal to set up a cafeteria and a souvenir shop at some point.
Rajaji National Park spans over 800 square kilometers and is open between mid-November and mid-June every year. It’s home to a vast amount of animals and birds including 500 elephants, 250 panthers and more than 400 bird species.
Tickets to the park cost Rs. 150 for Indians and Rs. 600 for foreigners.