The Beatles’ Indian mountain retreat that they visited back in 1968 is covered in moss and growing forest vegetation, but still attracts many Beatles fans every year.
NME is reporting that the Beatles had scheduled a three-month stay at the retreat located near Rishikesh, India. The Beatles were invited by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to his retreat for a transcendental meditation sanctuary. Yogi had leased the retreat area from the Indian government in 1957. The Beatles had planned to spend the three months writing and being trained in the ways of transcendental meditation to become teachers, or sub-gurus, of the belief.
Instead, the retreat at the ashram never made its full three-month commitment. Though the Beatles were rather prolific with their writing, unpopular living conditions and broken beliefs led to the Beatles leaving, one at a time. The departure is rather emblematic of the way the ashram looks now. The ashram is now dilapidated, forest growth enveloping most of the buildings. The ceiling is cracking and falling away, allowing sunlight to cascade into the rooms, filled with graffiti and artwork left behind by diehard Beatles fans who had to make the trek to this area.
According to the BBC, the Beatles allegedly had written 48 songs for The White Album while at the ashram. However, the Beatles left the ashram due to different reasons. Ringo Starr left after ten days because of the spicy food, even though he packed many cans of pork and beans and brought them with him and his wife, Maureen. Maureen hated flies, and both she and Ringo missed their children, so they left. Paul McCartney lasted for about a month, but then left for reasons unknown.
John Lennon and George Harrison ended up staying six weeks, mainly due to financial disagreements. But the biggest reason was a report that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi groped a female guest. That guest turned out to be Mia Farrow. Lennon chronicled this in the song “Sexy Sadie” with the line, “Sexy Sadie, what have you done? You made a fool of everyone.”
Some say the living conditions chased the Beatles away. One legend had Lennon living in a stone-floored hut. The ashram, actually, provided guests with the most modern facilities of the time, which included hot and cold running water. The Maharishi’s residence was believed to cost almost £35,000 at the time, approximately $55,000 in today’s dollars.
The Maharishi, however, along with his followers, abandoned the asram in the mid-1970s, never to return. The Maharishi died in 2008.
Though the ashram is falling apart, thousands of Beatles fans journey there every year to pay homage to the Beatles. Fans leave drawings, song lyrics, and other graffiti to honor the Beatles. Many diehard Beatles fans consider this mecca an item for their bucket list.
[Image courtesy of NME]