Lonely Planet Writer

Beatles fans can soon stay at the Indian ashram that inspired the White Album

When the Beatles visited Rishikesh in India in 1968, their trip went down in the legends of rock ‘n roll history and would go on to inspire one of their most famous records, the White Album. Soon fans will be able to follow in their footsteps by staying in the ashram they made famous and even learn some of the band’s history.

The Beatles in Rishikesh with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, March 1968. Photo by Hulton Archive

The Chaurasi Kutia ashram belonged to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a famous guru who invented the transcendental meditation movement which fascinated the British band. Although their stay there was relatively short, it’s a time period that has intrigued fans for decades and now local tourist authorities want to attract them to discover the place for themselves.

The ashram reopened to the public in 2015, although much of the building and land was still in disrepair and covered in graffiti after a number of decades of neglect. However, the state of Uttarakhand’s tourism department has outlined lots more plans to attract visitors. They want the improvements to be finished by 2018, to mark the 50th anniversary of the band’s visit and the 100th anniversary of the Maharishi’s birth.

Artwork depicting someone meditating on the abandoned walls of the ashram
Tourists were only allowed back inside the ashram in 2015. Photo by Kashfi Halford / Bacroft Images

The plans for improvement at the site include the renovation of the meditation buildings and lodgings to allow people to stay there. Some of the surrounding land belongs to the forest department and there are hopes they’ll allow a Beatles museum to be built there. Firstly, however, the surrounding wall will need to be improved to keep the wild animals from the nearby tiger reserve out.

The new ashram renovations are part of the plan to attract even more western tourists to Rishikesh. Photo by alexsl/Getty Images

The Beatles played a huge part in putting Rishikesh on the map for western tourists, which now attracts visitors in part because of its marketing as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. Tourism officials hope renewing that connection will attract even more people to the city.

If you can’t make it to India for the anniversary next year, Liverpool’s Beatles Story intends on opening a special exhibit on their time in the ashram in February 2018.