Monday, February 28, 2011

Beatles Ashram

Nancy- Rishikesh India

Saturday was the best day yet in India. Finally free from the tight schedule of yoga training a group of us set free in the town of Rishikesh to search out the infamous Beatles Ashram.  The long dirt road took us out of the chaos of the market and into a more peaceful Rishikesh I had not yet discovered.  We headed toward a forest and there it stood, an entrance of impressive archways with a green and red sign reading "NO ENTRY".  I was told if I offered the guard 50 rupees he would let us in.  Without a fight it worked.

A swami approached us and eagerly took on the role of tour guide. He lead us around the grounds explaining each dilapidated building the best he could with his limited English. We were aw-inspired.. Absolutely amazing! I hadn't realized before I'd come here that this once was an entire village complete with post office, chair maker, yoga halls and residence for living (which also includes several levels below ground).

More than five thousand people lived here but it was shut down when the land lease expired in 1988 and taken possession by the Indian government who has not done a thing to it since.  It's closed to the public and has become overgrown by the forest resembled the smaller ruins of Anchor Watt buried deep in the jungle. It's a peaceful and almost mythical place- hard to believe the Beatles were once here.

We toured the grounds wondering what was this like when it was in full swing? We wandered through the Beatles home, the underground meditation halls, yoga halls and levitation halls.  Graffiti spread all over the place, roofs caved in, windows smashed and stairwells scattered with broken glass. It was like a huge earthquake hit and destroyed the place yet made it feel like more of a secret discovery to see it this way.

Our swami guide lead us to the large egg shaped water towers perched up on the top of the hill. We climbed inside the hollow chambers. Apparently a great place for chanting and chakra toning excersizes.  We must have spent almost 2 hours in the grounds. After leaving the magical land we walked back to the market to eat my first 'real meal' out of the Ashram at a cafe called Little Buddha. We ordered a smorgasbord of food.. buttered nan, curries, mint jasmine rice, chai masalas, vegetables and banana nutella fritters for dessert.  Yum, my belly was happy :)

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