There have been thousands of musicians all over the world, through the ages, who consider the Beatles to be their musical gurus. In 1968, though, the Beatles travelled to India in search for a spiritual guru and ended up staying at the Chaurasia Kutiya, Rishikesh or the 84 Kutiya Rishikesh, the training centre of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who devised and popularised Transcendental Meditation.
It is widely said that many songs in the Beatles’ 1968 double album ‘White Album’ were created here. In 2015, after years of abandonment, the ashram was officially reopened as ‘Beatles Ashram’ and became a sort of pilgrimage site for Beatles fans. If you’re on the same bandwagon, the Ashram should feature at the top of your list of places to visit in Rishikesh.
Why should you visit?
The story goes that the Beatles came to the Ashram to take part in a Transcendental Meditation training course, after having met the Maharishi in London. After being introduced to Transcendental Meditation, they denunciated the use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and created some of their greatest musical pieces during their stay.
After the Ashram’s lease expired in 1981, the land was taken back by the Forest department and many would trespass inside the property and create graffiti and art on the walls as tribute to the Beatles and the meditational ideas of the Maharishi. Eventually when it was reopened for the public, it became the Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh – a spectacular monument dedicated to the Beatles, with various artists being commissioned to make murals and art installations. Nature walks and bird-watching are also part of the experience for the visitors at the Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh, apart from the various galleries and rooms with Graffiti and art, and a cafe inside. You can still feel the essence of the Beatles on every wall of the establishment, even decades after their departure.
How to get here?
The Ashram is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, on the eastern bank of the Ganga, opposite the Muni Ki Reti area of Rishikesh. The distance from the nearest airport, which is the Jolly Grant airport, is 30 km. The nearest railway station lies about 13 km away. The Ashram is quite well connected with Rishikesh hotels via local taxis.
Where to stay?
Almost all resorts in Rishikesh will have the Beatles Ashram on their pamphlets of local attractions. But if you’re looking for an all-rounder, the Sterling Palm Bliss – Rishikesh is where you need to be. Not only does it have beautifully scenic river-view suits and multi-cuisine restaurants to choose all kinds of vegetarian fare from, it also offers special spa treatments and healing programmes designed to detox your mind, body and soul in the Yoga Capital of the World.
The distance to the Beatles Ashram is 2.7 km and it takes about 30 minutes of trekking to reach from the resort. So take advantage of the rejuvenating facilities of the resort as you pay homage to the Beatles’ core of spiritual awakening.