“Nearly 50 years ago this abandoned Ashram in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya, hosted the world’s most-famous popstars on a journey of spiritual awakening that would transform their music forever.”
The Beatles visited the home of Yogi Maharishi Mahesh in 1968, I visited in 2015, however, I imagined the place to look quite different. As usual, I refrained from googling our chosen destination, it was from the whims of the wind that we learnt of it’s existence, which for me and my wife only enhanced the charm and thrill of searching for something so fashionably dubbed ‘The Beatles Ashram’.
(The entrance to the Ashram).
We were tipped that several Indian locals hung around the entrance demanding large sums of Rupee in return for access to the Ashrams grounds. We were also told about another entrance to the back of the walled gardens. This left us with a decision. As we always do we decided to fund the local community, these men were essentially using one of the only resources available to them. In the end that large sum was a measly $10.
(The main path).
Upon entering you are immediately faced with A twisting cobbled pathway that snakes into the eerie darkness 150ft below blooming Deodar trees. Everything is overgrown spectacularly.
The first structures of interest were a row of stone built hives, which are scattered all over the area. They were used as accommodation for the many students that studied in the ashram. The doom shaped roof on the inside created perfect acoustics for meditation and chanting. It is believed the Beatles wrote 48 songs inside these various chambers.
(Accommodation for the students).
(These small hives actually contain 3 storeys of living space).
This single acoustics chamber on the roof of the biggest building in the Ashram was surely used by the band regularly. It is the most fantastic piece of engineering on the whole complex and built entirely out of white marble. We spent about an hour in here singing Beatles songs...
(White Marble acoustics doomused by the Beatles, it's believed most of the White Album was penned here).
In the centre there is building aptly named ‘The Chapel’ and we found people inside!
(Painters return to repair the delapidated Mural).
A group of artists from the US who had famously painted a mural of The Beatles and Yogi had returned years later to touch them up. The timing was perfect. A group of Israeli travellers were also there and were playing on hosting a gig inside the Chapel the next night.
(Many notes lay scattered around like this one).
Wandering through the gardens taking these photographs and observing all the graffiti gave me a strange nostalgic sensation; it took me back, as if I was a part of this place when it was booming in the 60’s. I could see all the faces, hear all the voices, the music, the chaos and feel the highs. To be fair, perhaps it was the Hashish…
(The inside of one of the acoustic dooms).
(One of more grander building on the property, with a swimming pool).
(Quote from Chris McCandless's journal).
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