Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

Not This: The Power of Listening to Your Gut

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

Our first Sunday off from an intense yoga teacher training meant the freedom to fully explore the town of Rishikesh. After waking up at 4:30am, an hour earlier than our usual days, and visiting a nearby temple for sunrise, we were back at school by nine o’clock and from there, we set out to decide how we would spend the rest of our free day.

While resting up, we could hear a drum playing and getting closer to the school. Our teachers invited him into the courtyard and after some dancing, we decided to make our way into town. Hungry after our early morning, we grabbed lunch at, Freedom Cafe, which would become one of our favorite spots during the month in Rishikesh. Its location was right on the Ganges, which offered beautiful views any time of day, as well as delicious food and a cool vibe with room for all of us.

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

Then, we made our way to the Ashram, which was a bit more of a walk than I had anticipated. Our school was located in Tapovan, which is a small part of Rishikesh, and the town was a lot larger than I had previously realized. We followed the Ganges River through tree-lined paths, markets, and ashrams, until we came to what appeared to be the end of the path.

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

Eventually, we made our way to a makeshift entrance, which appeared to be the entrance of a home. There, we paid a hundred rupees, about $1.50 USD, to enter the property. From there, we climbed up a ramp and some steps and found ourselves at the abandoned ashram.

As luck would have it, my phone died and my camera decided to stop working. So all of the photos I have are thanks to my friend, Alissa, {spoiler} who is this week’s Wanderer of the Week so be sure to check back here on Friday. She thankfully had a working phone and GoPro and was kind enough to help a travel blogger in need out.

While here in 1968, The Beatles wrote over forty songs, many of which appeared on The White Album and Abbey Road. They came to study Transcendental Meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. On my first trip to London, I had visited Abbey Road, but something about being in the place they visited in India made me feel much more connected to the band, as well as their music. It was easy to see why they were inspired here.

First, we headed to the area where beehive-shaped rooms overgrown with plants and flowers dotted the tree-lined area. You could just imagine what it was like when people were meditating in these huts that overlooked the Ganges.

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

We continued to wander around the grounds until we looked up and saw huge spiders dangling from webs in the trees above us. After a moment of feeling as though I was in an Indiana Jones movie, I freaked out and moved on from the bee-hive huts to the main buildings. Here, we discovered buildings overgrown with plants and trees with caved in roofs. It made for fun photography, especially the larger building, which was filled with art.

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

We spent a good amount of time inside the Beatles Cathedral, posing for photos and admiring the art. Much of this art was created by artist Pan Trinity Das during his visit in 2012.

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

Exploring the Abandoned Beatles Ashram

After a bit more exploring, we made our way back for dinner, and on our way caught the nightly aarti. This is a devotional ritual offering of fire and flowers to the Goddess Ganga. It was a beautiful ceremony of singing, as we watched the sun set over the river.

Aarti

If you find yourself in Rishikesh, you must make your way to the Beatles Ashram. My advice is to get there as soon as you can because as of December of 2015, just weeks after my visit, the park was taken over by the government. It’s officially opened to the public now, at 150 rupees for Indian nationals and 650 rupees, about $10 USD, for foreigners. There are plans to keep the art, but they will also add a yoga and meditation center, which no doubt will change things. There’s something uniquely special about visiting the center as it’s slowly being reclaimed by the surrounding forest. Either way, it’s worth a visit, whether you are a Beatles fan or not.

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