Rishikesh,Exploration and The Beatles – Part XII

As I walked into my room I felt so heavy I can’t tell you.. I was on an adrenaline high these past 6 days and it was all crashing down.

I still had a long holiday to go. Pankaj and Jogen who were in another room would continue the holiday with me. First to Dehradun and later to Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.

But at that moment I remember closing all the windows and just crashing on to the bed and looking up blankly. Empty, nothing inside.

Contrary to what I thought the whatsapp group was already formed and people were exchanging pictures, messages, checking on the weather, Devang recording his voice of Oximeter reading announcement like a joke and messaging us, we were still somehow in it together.

How long would that be I didn’t know but it was good to enjoy till it lasted.

It seemed like the gods above decided to lash it’s fury even in the plains. Pouring lashing rains through the night in Rishikesh with big thunder and lightening and I wondered in the room that night wondering how Chopta must be.

Waking up to a bright sunny day and knowing that I had a long break to go before I would even head back to my life, my city, It was comforting really and I had to move on from this missing everyone everything feeling.

That morning Jogen came to my room worried saying Pankaj is not joining us to Dharamsala, he wants to go back to Bombay. I said ok, that’s fine.

Later I felt what Pankaj did was right, he wanted space and I wanted space of my own too.

Not that I enjoyed company but it was time to go solo, to be on my own, to only satisfy myself  and not stick to anyone’s schedule or worry about anyone else and that would happen soon.

That day the only thing on my mind was to visit Beatles Ashram. Period.

I am a HUGE and I mean HUGE obsessed fan of The Beatles. The only other bands whom I put up on that pedestal are THE WHO and QUEEN.

So with Pankaj resting up, Jogen and I decided to go to Beatles Ashram. But first, we visited Sivananda Ashram.

I have strong ties with Sivananda since my yoga training in 2005 in their Kerala ashram. I made major life changing decisions after spending a month there.

After spending some time at Sivananda, we decided to eat something because we knew the Beatles Ashram would take time.

Jogen asked the locals and they all said get away from this tourist area and go to Main Market, Triveni Chowk and you will find Rajasthani Bhojanalay. And believe me how good it was! Their Dal Bhaati which we shared along with Kesar Lassi was to die for!Next time you want some awesome meals,this is the place to go.

We were all set for the ashram. For those uninitiated,  a little bit of history on the ashram.

The British Iconic Rock Band, The Beatles came to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh in the late 1960’s to seek peace, to search within themselves. Even though the initial intention was to stay for 4 months, Paul, John and Ringo left in a month’s time.

George Harrison stayed back and what he experienced would reflect in all his future albums. Don’t believe me? Listen to ‘My Sweet Lord’ and ‘All things must Pass’. My Sweet Lord is one of my top favorites.

Even the Beatles’s next album would be hugely influenced by what they experienced in India. A lot of songs were written during that period like Norwegian Wood, Lucy in the sky with Diamonds, Across the Universe and many more.

How did I come to know about the ashram? I remember a vague article in the late 90’s mentioning this and how after they left, Mahesh Yogi had to abandon the ashram due to litigation of land with the authorities.

But this is what happened, fans of Beatles, artists started visiting the ashram to experience it’s energy and beautiful work came out of it.

I remember the pictures of amazing art work on the walls and areas in the ashram in that article. I only had a vague idea but until Jogen told me THE ASHRAM is in Rishikesh right here I wouldn’t have known it!

I was like forget any temple, this is MY TEMPLE. I have to visit it and so we did, walked till there. And we saw only foreigners, no one else were aware of it.

The ashram became a part of the Forest Authorities and they re-opened it in 2015 commissioning artists to add their work.

It took us quite some time to search for the bohemian art work/, the melange of quotes, lyrics of every song of the Beatles, the art work, the psychedelic connotations.

I expected art work but when we finally found major artwork in this huge hall, I was open mouthed. My hair stood on the edge, serious goose bumps as I looked around me. I actually twirled slowly as in slow motion to take it all in.

What can I say, see the pictures for yourself..Amazing energy to this place, a serene energy.

It was not just the Beatles, it was the collective energy of the people who came those days, who stayed here, the artists who used to jump  into the abandoned ashram and create their own energy, it was all here. Once could truly feel it, experience it.

The most haunting lyrics and quotes were written on the floor, scribbled on the wall, a ,mention of Yoko Ono with John Lennon inside one of the ahead of it’s times dome like houses. It looked so eerily futuristic, like a cult.

In fact it was a cult. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his followers in this secluded ashram in the wilderness.

On one side was the rest of the world, the mainstream world which looked at this ashram with suspicion maybe, with a curiosity like what does happen inside there?

While on the other side were these ‘rebels’, the flower power children seeking peace within themselves, finding new paths through meditation, psychedelics,a dynamic guru, his teachings, leaving everything what they called life and coming here..So fascinating right?

It was very intriguing as we went around the ashram.  It was magnetic I tell you. We didn’t feel like leaving the place. it was pulling us to it.

What fascinated me the most was this entrance that lead to an entrance and it said it had 84 caves! Yes 84 caves.

And as we walked in, we were relieved to be in this coolest of cool caves, the hot sun outside didn’t effect the caves, each one was a meditation room beautifully designed and like that there were 84 of them!

Who built this ashram?? It was so way ahead of it’s times, even with the present times.

I made a promise to myself that the next time I am here I would come alone, spend time and sit in those caves and meditate, the energy of that place was that strong.

Can you imagine how it would have looked that time in the 1960s?? In the wilderness with people, energies and we saw stands for lamps. Imagine lit up lamps all through the ashram.

It was magical just thinking about it. If only I had a time machine.

Each nook and corner, a dilapidated haunting building, we walk up and see more art works, entrancing, psychedelic works, each one piercing through you.

I would stand transfixed, mesmerized. My head was swinging big time. It was like being on an ‘ecstatic’ drug and you are in a trance. I was shaking my head as I looked around and yet felt so calm inside, it felt like I was here before. Total Deja Vu.

We met a lovely German lady  Laurence who asked if I could take some pictures of her in the building and email it as her camera was broken. I took pics and sent it to her that night.

What I thought would be just an hour of going around turned out to be a good 3 hours of being there. Jogen wasn’t tired at all, in fact he felt energized and rejuvenated.

I knew for sure this would not be my last trip to Rishikesh and definitely not to Beatles Ashram. This would be my MUST visit whenever am here.

We came back to the guest house and decided to eat there itself. It was delicious simple Garhwali food and we relished it every bit.

I was totally on a high post the ashram trip. I remember going on looking at those pictures on my phone.

Tomorrow would be Dehradun. Another journey, another path, another destination..

 

 

 

 

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