Visit the 'Beatles Ashram' in India's yoga retreat of Rishikesh

Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNNUpdated 15th February 2016
Editor's Note —
(CNN) — At the next Beatles' fan club meeting, worshippers can leave Abbey Road alone, and instead join hands and meditate in an Indian ashram like John, Paul, George and Ringo did in 1968.
Authorities in the northern Indian state Uttarakhand have revamped and reopened Chaurasi Kutia (or The Beatles Ashram), a spiritual hermitage inside Rajaji National Park in the popular yoga retreat city Rishikesh.
The ashram was made famous after the four-piece band practiced Transcendental Meditation there under the spiritual instructor Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (immortalized in the song "Sexy Sadie") in the late '60s.
It was also where the English band wrote about 40 songs, including some featured on "Abbey Road" and "The White Album."
The ashram was then closed for more than three decades.
The Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (right), a spiritual guru of Transcendental Meditation, in the 1960s.
It was taken over in 2003 by the Uttarakhand Forest Department.
Even thought the ashram was officially closed to the public, the complex had become a shrine for the Beatles' fans and graffiti artists who secretly sneaked into the property.
"We have cleared the floors and walls of all creepers and have removed cobwebs and garbage from the meditation cells and halls," Rajendra Nautiyal, ranger of the Rajaji National Park's Gauri Range, told The Indian Express.
They're introducing new nature and bird walks and there are also plans for a cafeteria and a museum.

Graffiti can stay in the reopened park

But the biggest attraction is the colorful graffiti on the walls.
"No one will be allowed to draw on the walls anymore. But an artist can (get) permission and paint since it's the artwork here that is its biggest draw," said Nautiyal.
California-based street artist Pan Trinity Das visited Rishikesh in 2012 and left behind many yoga-inspired murals.
"When I first arrived in the hall there were charcoal drawings all over the walls and maybe one or two very small colored paintings," he told CNN.
"It was obvious to me that people wanted to claim this space and commemorate the legends that walked these grounds."
A group of travelers and artists visited the Beatles Ashram in 2012 and created colorful murals around the site.
He began drawing out rough drafts on the wall and recruiting volunteers who could help to "bring them to life with colors."
They were shut out by the park officials before they could complete the initial design, but earlier this year Das and his wife Kyrie Maezumi returned to finish it.
"I'm thrilled that the space is getting the recognition that it deserves," said Das.
"Almost everyone who enters the space is dumbfounded that such a historical and spectacular site was falling into ruin."
Rajaji National Park spans over 800 square kilometers and is open between mid-November and mid-June every year. It's home to a vast amount of animals and birds including 500 elephants, 250 panthers and more than 400 bird species.
Tickets to the park cost Rs150 ($2) for locals and Rs 600 ($9) for foreigners.
Rajaji National Park, Ansari Road, Mohand Range, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
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