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The Beatle Ashram

On the outskirts of the town of Rishikesh and in sight of the holy Ganges can be found the remains of the ashram founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This is where, in February 1968, The Beatles, along with other notable celebrities, came to study transcendental meditation under the guidance of the Maharishi.

Despite the venture ending in a great deal of disillusionment and criticism, it turned out to be the band's most productive period musically and several songs were written here, most of which appeared on the "White Album. The track "Sexy Sadie" was the last to be written by John Lennon in his meditation pod number nine and was originally titled "Maharishi" as a barbed tribute, but Lennon was persuaded to change this and some lyrics by George Harrison

The derelict ashram, which is surrounded by forest, covers an area of 14 acres but is not easy to find as, strangely, it is not publicised. The entrance gate is locked and the area closed to visitors but the appeal is so strong for so many that a hole in the wall is now the main entrance. There is even an unofficial guide who seemingly appears from nowhere as new visitors arrive.The land where it stands is part of what is now national park and the forest is quickly reclaiming it as the buildings fall into ruins.

Still standing and able to be identified are the post office where John Lennon would visit each day to collect telegrams from Yoko Ono, the hospital, hotel and family dwellings and of course the many meditation pods. The vast lecture hall houses a large amount of graffiti art, much of which is the product of "The Beatles Cathedral Gallery" which was a community art project dedicated to the artistic re-activation of the hall. The project lasted for 2 weeks in April 2012 before being shut down by the authorities.

The ashram now seems doomed to destruction as it and it's legacy are consumed by the invading forest.


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Profile photo of Derek Darke

My partner Carol and I set off on a 400 day long trip around the Indian Subcontinent. Travelling mainly by local bus it proved to be an extraordinary adventure as we rubbed shoulders with many interesting people and visited fascinating places. We travelled through Sri Lanka, much off India and into Nepal and wrote the book Cardamom Days upon which my blog is based. We wanted the trip to be extraordinary and extraordinary is what it proved to be.



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