Uttarakhand’s Forest Department on Tuesday reopened the ‘Beatles’ ashram in Rishikesh, which temporarily housed the famous British band, for the public.
The ashram had received many Beatles fans over the years, who managed to enter by allegedly bribing the officials.
Uttarakhand Forest Minister Dinesh Aggarwal told Indian Express, “This is our state’s treasure and its opening is an important landmark for us. We plan to include a yoga learning centre and meditation classes at a later stage. Our aim is to ensure that visitors don’t simply come for the Beatles connection but to learn the magic of nature, meditation and yoga.”
Indian tourists will be charged Rs 150 while foreigners will be charged Rs 600 as entry fees.
The ashram, located within the Rajaji National Park, was in a state of disrepair since 2003, after the Yogi who resided in the ashram left along with his followers.
The Beatles had come to Rishikesh to learn ‘Transcendental Meditation’ from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in February 1968 and stayed a little over seven weeks without finishing their course.
Although this wasn’t the best period for the band in terms of the mutual relationship between its members, they are said to have written 48 songs here in just seven weeks.
The report also quoted a Spanish backpacker as saying, “Earlier, nobody had to buy tickets but Rs 600 is too much for us. It’s what we would pay for three nights in a hotel here.”
The igloo-shaped dome is also adorned with paintings and graffiti by artists such as Pan Trinity Das, a Canadian artist.
Black-and-white portraits of the Beatles alongside those of spiritual teachers, including the Yogi and the Dalai Lama are some of the key attractions. But some fear they might also be removed as part of the refurbishing process.
However, one of the officials quoted in the report said, “No one will be allowed to draw on the walls anymore. But an artist can take permission and paint since it’s the artwork here that is its biggest draw.”