Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram
The abandoned site of the Beatles spiritual awakening and subsequent revolt.
The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram in Rishikesh, India, is one of the few places associated with the Fab Four that has been largely abandoned.
Now remembered for its famous guests and not the teachings of its (possibly charlatan) yogi, the ashram saw the arrival of the Beatles in 1968. At the urging of George Harrison, the entire group traveled to the remote meditation center to study under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but the band’s peace was not destined to last.
The ashram consisted of meditation cells, a lecture hall, and a great number of purpose-built bungalows where the band stayed. Ringo Starr was the first to leave, citing a distaste for the vegetarian food, and was soon followed by Paul McCartney. George Harrison and John Lennon stuck around for a few weeks more, but after a confrontation with the Maharishi over his conduct among the female students, they too took their leave of the school. Despite having only stayed at the site for a short number of months, the band wrote a number of hit songs about their experience, ensuring the ashram would live in infamy.
Today the formerly transcendental complex is largely abandoned and the buildings are being retaken by the surrounding forest. The lecture hall has even been turned into an art project called the Beatles Cathedral with Beatles lyrics and pictures of the band painted all over the walls. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram is a bit hard to find, but there are a number of enterprising locals who are more than willing to enlighten visitors for the right price.
The complex has now returned to government management as part of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, leading to the introduction of a small cafe, some signage, a photo gallery, and a 600 rupee entrance fee for foreigners. While most of the buildings postdate the Beatles’ visit, the bungalows they lived in are still (barely) standing and may be visited.
Know Before You Go
Entrance 150 rupees for Indians, 600 for foreigners. If not keen on the walk bring your own taxi and ask it to wait for you.
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