During my recent trip to India, last October and this month, I visited some great places like Varanasi, Hardwar and also Rishikesh. Here, I tried to get some information about the ashram where the Beatles stayed for some weeks in 1968.
I found eventually an Indian who knew the place and we managed to visit it. The ashram, located in a National Park has been seized by the Government in the 1980's and is officially closed. The place, along the cliffs overlooking the Ganges River, is a 57 000 m2 compound in the jungle, now dilapidated and slowly consumed by the surrounding forest. But the atmosphere and the architecture are great and I was very excited by the visit. Truly one of my greatest experiences.
A few words about the place, the Beatles stay (with pics by Paul Saltzman, the photographer who photographed the Beatles at the ashram) and some of the pics I made a couple of weeks ago.
In February 1968, the Beatles decide to take an extended course on Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi. The Beatles embark on a spiritual quest and the trip is planned for three months in Rishikesh, India. They were at the height of their fame, but they came to escape material wealth and the pressures of celebrity.
It's in the ashram that the Fab Four composed as many as 48 songs, some of them became part of the White Album, but also Abbey Road and Let It Be.
Pics by Paul Saltzman
The ashram today
The buildings and architectural style are really amazing, with mediation rooms, conference halls, a kitchen, offices, and curious egg shaped individual mediation cells (including the ones where each of the Beatles stayed). Some of them are also underground, along a double long corridor whose entrance is now hidden in the jungle… The architectural remains is very beautiful and a reminder of the influence of Indian design and thought on 60s aesthetics in the west.
The first entrance, locked, with a security guard
One of the concrete "bungalows" in the jungle with the egg-shaped shelter on the terrace for meditation
One of the buildings (administration, kitchens ?)
One of the teaching and meditation hall, originally covered with blue glass ...
The hall where most of the White Album songs have been written
Graffitis on a wall
The main building
The Google earth view
Rishikesh – Beatles with the Maharashi video newsreel film
Paul Saltzman's Beatles in India Interview on VVH-TV (The photographer at the ashram)
All you need is love ....