The ruins of a spiritual retreat in northern India have become a place of pilgrimage – but not because of the guru who once lived there. It’s all about the Beatles, and the time they spent there meditating and writing songs in 1968.
In the wooded hills near India’s holy city of Rishikesh, a 67-year-old British man trudges gingerly through a forest. He is on his way to a derelict ashram where his musical idols once stayed.
He first saw the Beatles in the summer of 1963, he says, when he was one of about 200 people in the audience at a seaside resort. The ticket cost 7d (3p).
Half a century later, he has brought his family from Wales to the ashram on the banks of the Ganges once run by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – one of the most flamboyant of the self-styled gurus to emerge from the era of hippiedom.
The Fab Four were there, according to a newspaper report, for a course in “transcendental meditation, which the guru promises can cure anything that ails the Beatles or the world”.
“This place is a pilgrimage for Beatles fans,” says the British tourist. “They come from all over the world. I had to bring my family here.”
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