To Beatles with Love: Chaurasi Kutiya, Rishikesh

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Rishikesh, From being what once a derelict ruin enveloped in thick undergrowth, yet today, the much-sort-after destination in Rishikesh. Spread over 15 acres, with over two hundred buildings including the famous 84 independent meditation rooms/halls or its Indian equivalent Chaurasi Kutiya built exclusively for visitors to meditate, has survived the onslaught of time.

With a little touch-up here and there by the Uttarakhand Forest and Tourism Department, the Beatles Ashram or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi home and Meditation Centre or just plain Chaurasi Kutiya has become a popular tourist attraction. This historical play-ground of the iconic rock-band Beatles has stood witness to the march of Time when ‘East met West,’ right here, on the banks of the Ganges as it flows quietly onto the plains of India.

Senior Journalist Raju Gusain, and an encyclopaedia on the Fab Four’s 1968 visit to this very ashram, talks with pride, “the shift in focus is already showing positive result. In the past 5 months alone, since the ashram was given a face-lift by the forest as well as tourism department, close to 2,200 foreigners have visited the ashram to-date compared to 1000 odd foreigners who visited in 2017. Revenue too has double–folded from 24 lakhs in five months compared to 18 lakhs in one year.” It’s the call of the place, that has made it popular amongst tourist of all ages, places and walks of life.

And the changes are only beginning. Its serene environment and perfect setting amongst the thick foliage makes it an ideal get-away, a quality that perhaps got the Beatles hooked to the Ashram in the late 70’s.

A gallery with 23 photos by Paul Saltzman dedicated to the memory of the Beatles,  a second gallery dedicated to the memory of the man behind the place Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his teachings, last but not the least Forest Department too has put up a personal gallery which boosts of the wildlife which the ashram homes, adds its own charm.

Other tourists facilities include a Cafeteria which caters to the needs of those who come visiting from 10:00-5:00 p.m.. A solar fence protects the area from the entry of Pachyderms and felines which once roamed freely.

Year 2018 marks 50 years since the Beatles travelled to Chaurasi Kutiya in Rishikesh. It is here where the band reconnected and their creativity knew no bounds, composing close to 40 songs in seven weeks. One last look at the place and it hits home! You realise the  effect such serenity would have on anyone let alone the rock-and-roll Band of the Beatles!