Welcome to the Maharishi Mahesh Ashram, or more commonly known as the Beatles Ashram.
Located in the holy “Valley of the Saints” at the foothills of the Himalayas.
The Beatles Ashram was one of the most anticipated sites I had been trying to reach during my travels in India. I spent the lead up researching every article buried deep in the online matrix trying to find out exactly what was the deal with this place and what happened here. The result of my efforts? a deep sense of respect, awe and fascination. After my research visiting the Ashram turned into a pretty big deal.
There is a special kind of energy that can be felt here, the Ashram once served seekers of transcendental meditation, now the earth is slowly taking back the abandoned buildings, it is quite extraordinary to see. Perhaps this energy is a wonderful mixture of these two prime examples of what it means to surrender.
The Beatles stayed here in 1968 after first meeting Maharishi in London in 1967 and taking an interest in Indian spirituality. The stay was a time of internal discovery and devotion guided by Maharishi. Meditation, relaxation and the tranquility of the jungle is said to be an important component to the bands most productive period. This is where the Beatles wrote some of their most famous songs and much of their White album.
The Ashram was abandoned in 1997 and is now government property where you can explore what remains of the meditation caves, stone cottages, communal areas and lecture halls.
With every turn there is something new to be discovered that you wont find in a guide book. The Ashram has become a bit of a graffiti free for all, however I think this adds to the charm and the element of discovery.
The ageing Ashram was given some new life with the “Hello to the Queen” art walk, which is a project completed in February 2016 featuring work from YouOnlyAlways, Miles Toland and Hope Godfrey. I really enjoy the fact that the art is not only there to be seen, but also to be found. I trekked into some of the far and almost unreachable outer edges of the Ashram and was still discovering the incredible and hidden work.
The jungle was thick with steam, I could feel the beads of sweat trickling down my skin from my shoulders to my elbows then dripping down to the jungle floor, only to be evaporated again. As sticky and uncomfortable as that was, I started to embrace the atmosphere until I felt like I was apart of this big organic process as I witness the earth take back.
If the history doesn’t grasp you it will be the art, or the nature, or perhaps the sheer size of the place. This Ashram is truely a world of its own and I loved it.
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