The Beatles Ashram

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The Beatles Ashram- The Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh is a huge complex of building that has been retaken by the forest, a sort of rock version of Ankor Wat. The jungle clad setting overlooking the Ganga is said to have been the inspirational backdrop for The WhiteAlbum. Anyone who has listened to this album would agree there was some intense exploration of a mental and melodic nature going on.
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As you walk through the front gate and up the hill to the main complex there are several small buildings on the right hand side shaped like half an egg and covered on the outside by thousands of smooth river stones. If you walk past the first dome you come to infamous dome number 9. The sight where Lennon, McCartney, composed #9 …#9…#9…#9…#9

Against the backdrop of India’s largest tiger preserve, Corbett National Park, the abandoned building of the ashram are being slowly reclaimed by the surrounding jungle. The atmosphere is eary and magical. Around every corner is the possibility of a hidden treasure, a poems scratched into the peeling paint left years ago by Paul McCartney or yellow glowing eyes of an elusive predator. Every surface of the ashram was built to play on the senses. The entire compound was build to enhance the experiences of the of mind altering substances. The surfaces are different textures from rounded stones, to sparkling mosaic tiles, to an inexplicable meringue like ceiling found in the lower tunnels. The most notorious of these sensory tricks is the elevation yoga

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We wondered into this most unique of rooms through a nondescript little dome set back from the main road. Inside two hallways lead down into darkness. We had been told that the building were connected by underground passages but also warned that cobras like to make these dark recesses their homes.IMG_1203

Sweeping the ground infront of us stick in hand we made our way towards the light at the other end. We emerged into what seemed like a normal room. A rundown 1960’s Indian lecture hall of sorts. At the near end stood several elevated leges with a pulpit stand in the center where the teacher or yogi must have sat. The true allusive nature of the room was reveled when we walked to the back wall.
From this vantage the gentle slope in the floor made it feel as though you are floating eye level with the raised platform. In the days of the Maharishi Mahesh people would imbibe their drugs and beleive they were truly levitating. This must have taken the mysticism of yoga and meditation the a whole new level. Literally.
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The room is falling apart now, however, the mystery of its past still fascinates many. Especially for those who grew up with the legends of the Beatles and desire to set eyes on what may have inspired the fab four.
Rumor has it that at its height 10,000 people lived in theAshram all following the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. After the proverbial death of rock and roll, and a subsequent bust of drug and diamond dealers operating out of the ashram, it was abandoned back to nature. Green vines and roots have retaken the once splendid place. E The forest, as any jungle might be expected to, has reached its branches into the buildings speeding the grace of decay.

 

While the White album is the most experimental of Beatles collection the influence of the maharishi mahesh and this place evident. Lennon turned Maharishi into an enduring figure through the song Sexy Saidy. The allusion to the seductive appeal of both the Maharishi and the place he had built ring through the song. As does the betrayal Lennon felt when the true corruption and deception was revealed. As any cult this one had its days of glory and its harsh end, but I for one would love skip back 40 years and wonder this ashram in its finest.

hoSexy Sadie what have you done
You made a fool of everyone
You made a fool of everyone
Sexy Sadie ooh what have you done.

Beatles in India

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 The bones of the buildings remaining give an illusion of a magical past. Since this is India where the past and present exist together, you can almost feel the ghosts of a powerful energy that once existed here. On the roof of the ashram are large white half domes. Made from white tile  they shine as if polished yesterday. They are hollow providing private meditation domes with amazing acoustics. When in the domes, hardly any sound escapes through the hole in the roof even when singing at the top of your voice.

From the elevated vantage point on top on an egg made for acoustic perfection sitting on roof of a  four story of a building constructed by a 1960’s mind altering cult, in an indian jungle over looking the most sacred of rivers the ganges I spent my birthday. As we walked home for this day of surrealism the gods of India gave me another pressent. walking through the darkness past cows and babas along the rivers edge the full moon began to turn first orange then bood red. Slowly a shadow stole accross its smiling face until the moon was no more that a circle punched out of a black sky. On my Birthday December, 10 2011 we watched a perfect full lunar eclips. for one who believes lightly in omens this can only mean I have one hell of an interesting life ahead of me.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/30/the-beatles-india-the-fab_n_789587.html

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