The Beatles a legendary English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960 having the fab-four John Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were the pioneers of the rock era. But as all close relationships witness turbulent waves of anguish, similarly these lanky fellows of the music industry had resentment between them. In 1968, as rumours may have it, the brotherhood between the band members was no longer the same. When Yoko Ono entered John Lennon’s life the other band members including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison started opposing her interference in the band’s affairs. News about their sour relationship was the headlines of the newspapers at that time and Starr was thinking of breaking his ties with the band, which he did in August that year.
The Beatles needed a break from the monotonous life so they headed to the holy city of Rishikesh and under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, they started transcendental meditation in his Chaurasi Kutia, famously known as Beatles Ashram now. They awaited their long stay at the ashram and within three months, the band wrote 40 songs, 18 of which were recorded and featured in “The White Album”. Though the course of transcendental meditation didn’t help them much and two years later in 1970, the band members decided to walk out of the union. The White Album was criticised for being too apolitical at the time of great ruffle in America but today it is hailed as a masterpiece.
After receiving a green flag from the Tiger Conservation Authority, the Beatles Ashram sprawling over 18.75 acres of land on the Rajaji Tiger Reserve was finally opened for the tourists on December 8, 2015, marking the 35th death anniversary of John Lennon. Till 2003, the ashram was run by Mahesh Yogi and has been closed for the tourists ever since. The news of re-opening of ‘Chaurasi Kutia’ aka Beatles Ashram came as a sudden gush of rain for the die-hard fans of the Beatles, who thronged here in huge numbers. For accessing this place, the tourists need to pay a minimal entry fees i.e. Rs. 600 for foreign nationals and Rs. 150 for the natives.
Forest minister Dinesh Aggarwal said, “We want musicians from all over the world to come here to learn meditation”. He further added, “Chaurasi Kutia Ashram will be known all over the world for its spiritualism. The place is blessed with rich biodiversity, sound-proof huts with natural cooling. There is no parallel to it”.
Grewal said, “The ashram has been visited by Beatles fans since the band members awaited their stay here in 1968. We will revive the Beatles association with the ashram and restore their huts. New brochures and maps will soon be made available. The ruins will be maintained as heritage structures”.
The chief wildlife warden DVS Khati explained, how Mahesh Yogi came to own this land and built the ashram in 1961. He said, “The forest land was leased to him for a period of 20 years. After the lease expired in 1981, Yogi left the ashram along with his followers in 2003. Since then it has been with the state forest department. There were complications related to getting approvals and funds, but all that’s done now”.
While in Rishikesh, the band composed numerous songs, many of which were featured on the band’s eponymous album, also known as the ‘White Album’. Smitten by the charm of Rishikesh, the Fab Four recorded a song named ‘Happy Rishikesh Song’ as a fitting tribute to the Yoga capital of the world.