Outside of yoga, by far my favorite thing I did in Rishikesh was visit what is known as the Beatles Ashram or Maharishi Mahesh Ashram. Maharishi Mahesh became dubbed “The Beatles Ashram” after the Beatles spent time there in 1967. The reportedly wrote much of The White Album and also were able to kick their LSD habit. Maharishi is also the name of the guru that ran the ashram.
Now, the Beatles Ashram is closed and in disrepair, due to ongoing legal disputes with the Indian government. I read in the Lonely Planet that it isn’t safe to go alone, since it’s on the outskirts of Rishikesh, but I was able to convince my new ashram friend, Aric, to accompany me to check it out. It was a bit hard to find, but a friendly baba (holy man) could see the confused looks on our faces and led us up the path to the ashram. He was the smallest baba I have ever seen and made me feel tall in comparison!
The walls of the ashram are crumbling and we were able to easily sneak inside.
It was fun to wander the gigantic ashram grounds and picture what it would have been like in the 60’s. The meditation rooms were giant stone pods. So cool!
The walls of the ashram were covered with grafifti from the legions of Beatles fans who have visited. The grounds of the ashram were very expansive – it must have been able to hold hundreds of visitors at one time. Wandering the abandoned halls was very eerie. It’s hard to believe it’s only been closed for a few decades.
And of course, what ashram would be complete without a beautiful view of the turquoise Ganges?
The crown jewel of Maharishi Mahesh is the “Beatles Cathedral”, which was painted by a group of renegade artists. Of course it has it’s own Facebook page, a true sign of the times.
I hope that someone is able to reopen the ashram, as even though it was fun to visit in its crumbling glory, it would have been amazing to experience as a guest.
Most photos in this post are courtesy of the talented Aric Gutnick of the Warriors Organization. For more information on this NGO dedicated to improving the lives to the Masai people in Tanzania, click here or email Aric directly at antigravityagent [at] gmail.com.