Visiting The Beatles Ashram is a must do thing when you visit Rishikesh. Not only because it’s pretty awesome to see because the Ashram is now totally in ruins and a little bit eery and is interesting whether you are a fan of The Beatles or not, but also because The Beatles along with other big stars coming to this Ashram completely changed the face of Rishikesh and of India for travellers from the West!
Before visiting Rishikesh I had just finished a book called The Magic Bus – The Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India. It follows the story of a guy who wants to see how hippies travelled from Europe over to India back in the 1960’s and why they did it. (I definitely recommend the book by the way and you can get it on Kindle too so you can read it when you’re in India!)
Rishikesh completes a chapter of this book and after reading it I really came to understand the impact that The Beatles had on this area so I want to explain that to you to give you a better understanding and give you some tips on how to visit The Beatles Ashram from Rishikesh!
The Ashram by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called Chaurasi Kutia Ashram was already a working Ashram before The Beatles got there, and a huge one at that! Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught Transcendental Meditation (TM) here to people who wanted to learn more about TM and become TM teachers.
At this point Rishikesh was visited by Hippies and Intrepid’s but not that much, it was mainly a place for Indian’s to visit on a pilgrimage because of the Holy Ganges!
Led by George Harrison The Beatles along with their Wives, Girlfriends and a few other stars arrived in India at the start of 1968 in 2 separate groups. Prior to this they had attended a seminar by the Maharishi in Wales in 1987 which convinced them to go to India and stay in the Ashram.
They arrived 3 weeks into a TM course that had already started and stayed at the back of the Ashram in accommodation that was a lot more plush than the accommodation for the rest of the students including electric heaters, running water and toilets. Although the building does not look like this now..
Their experiences were all a bit different, George Harrison had a dedication to TM and was looking for peace inside after saying “We have all the money you could ever dream of. We have all the fame you could ever wish for. But, it isn’t love. It isn’t health. It isn’t peace inside, is it?”.
John Lennon was looking for ‘the Answer’ and didn’t like the food. Ringo Starr also didn’t like the food and said “The food was impossible for me because I’m allergic to so many different things. I took two suitcases with me, one of clothes and one full of Heinz beans.”
Their time at the Ashram turned out to be the most creative for them, they wrote about 40 songs which featured on Abbey Road and The White Album, and although Paul McCartney was keen to write songs, Harrison reminded them they were there to meditate!
They all left at different times, McCartney and Starr leaving earlier than the rest and following their stay they had issues with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after him requesting that funds from their next album were paid to him. Mia Farrow also said that he made a pass at her. In addition to this I read he had issues with them after realising that they had been taking drugs whilst in the Ashram which was prohibited!
However, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died in 2008 and following this they all had good things to say about him.
The Beatles stay in Rishikesh had a huge effect on them and their music but what it also had an effect on was Rishikesh and India. All of a sudden travellers wanted to come here and a boom in tourism happened.
These days Rishikesh is the home of Yoga in India and full of Ashrams for Indians but also for many Westerners. Westerns come to Rishikesh and tend to get ‘stuck’ here. Days roll into the next after yoga classes, meditation classes, chakra healing classes, meals in trendy but cheap restaurants, and evenings spent listening to live music on the floor of a restaurant surrounded by other like minded travellers.
40 years after the The Beatles visited Rishikesh travellers, like myself, are still coming here in search of the answer, to learn something more and connect with other travellers who feel the same way.
I really loved Rishikesh, make sure you read my full guide to Rishikesh after this!
The ashram closed in 1981 after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi didn’t renew the lease and although his staff stayed living there until 2003, by this point it had become popular with tourists visiting and sneaking in to see where their idols had stayed.
In 2016 the ashram was cleaned and trimmed, turned into a tourist site and renamed as The Beatles Ashram which tourists can now visit.
What surprised me was the amount of Indian Tourists who were visiting on the same day as me and I wonder whether they were there for The Beatles or for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, probably the latter!
If you’re looking to do some Day Tours in Rishikesh, be sure to check out these awesome tours!
Tips for Visiting The Beatles Ashram!
The Ashram is on the Western side of Rishikesh and about a 30 minute walk from Laxman Jhula bridge. It’s a nice walk along the Ganga River with opportunities to stop and go down to the beach and to the water, walk past the temples including a big Shiva Temple and see a lot of Ashrams on the way.
It’s open 10:00-16:00 and it costs to get in- 600Rs for Foreigners which to be honest I was hesitant to pay but I’m glad I did!
Take a photo of the map on the side of the ticket booth as this will give you an idea of what you are seeing, although there are signs inside too. Just be sure to walk all the way to the back to the see building that The Beatles actually stayed in.
Give yourself plenty of time! I spent about 60 minutes in there and could have spent longer walking around as the site is really huge!
There are toilets and a small cafe inside too.
I got bitten by quite a few mosquito’s so take bug spray and your bug biting pen! Ringo Starr also complained about the flies apparently.. I can see what he means!
Get off the trails and really explore the insides of the buildings, you’re allowed to walk in most areas!
Be prepared to take a lot of photos!
As you can tell, I definitely recommend going to the The Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh and I hope this has helped you understand it and made you visit!
For more of my posts on Rishikesh & India see:
My Guide to Rishikesh!
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