A Chapter by Nick Anthony

The story so far. The Beatles trip to India lead to the Band going off in different directions. Only John and George remained.

At the foothills of the Himalayas across the Ganga River from Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, overlooking the magnificent Laxman Jhula suspension bridge is the 84 Kutiya or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram. In tourist guides it is often referred to as the Beatles Ashram and Beatles fans make the pilgrimage to this now derelict site every year, many leave feeling disappointed.

Now part of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve it is probably the most neglected tourist destination with a Beatles connection. Trip Advisor reviews, whilst generally favourable about the Ashram itself are often less than complimentary when written by Beatles fans. One such visitor wrote " What a let down! There was nothing to indicate that the Beatles were here apart from some graffiti painted on recently" whilst another noted "If you’re a Beatles fan or a music fan or a normal human being looking for a day out, don’t bother!" However, there is more to the 84 Kutiya and it's value as a place of pilgrimage and meditation than its association with a pop group who only stayed there for a few weeks, more than 50 years ago.

"84 Kutiya literally means 84 huts. 84 is a number that represents the base numeral of the number of species we believe to exist on this earth 84,000,000. In the Indian belief system, you take birth in as many species or yonis as we call them before you return to a human life." So says Anuradha Goyal in the excellent travel blog Inditales. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first came to this place in 1960. Such was his enchantment with the area, he leased 15 acres of land from the then UP forest department for 40 years commencing in 1961. Although the lease expired in 2001 Maharishi's enthusiasm the school had long since waned. In later years he moved away from the area and focus his activities in the west, predominantly in Europe. As a result the Ashram had become abandoned by the 1990's.

At the height of its popularity (no doubt helped by its Beatles connection) the Ashram housed up to 500 residents all taking advantage of an extensive kitchen area and the aforementioned Kutiya (some of which are two storey). Visiting pilgrims of the day would have made use of the Shiva Temple and the Ved Bhavan or lecture hall that was used to conduct classes. The more well-to-do visitors would have stayed in the Panchkuti a set of guest houses meant for international guests and dignitaries. The Beatles themselves were housed in the Saptapuri complex just beyond the Panchkuti but no less lacking in western comforts as we shall see. Being designed as residential quarters for those training to be teachers these are the biggest buildings on the campus. Although now falling into disrepair their slanting pyramidal walls remain an impressive sight. The size and scale of the place isn't really conveyed in Beatles documentaries or the few newsreel clips and photographs that exist documenting their stay here. This was effectively a University Campus albeit one entirely funded by its students.

In anticipation of the Beatles arriving in February of 1968 some of the quarters were renovated to make them considerably more luxurious than most visitors would have been used to. Cynthia Lennon recalled in her book "John" that their room featured a four poster bed, an electric fire and some chairs. What they were unaware of was that such basic fittings such as mirrors, curtains and working toilets were not luxuries that other students enjoyed.

Mal Evans, the Beatles' long-serving assistant brought the luggage belonging to John and Cynthia Lennon, George and Pattie Harrison and Pattie's sister Jenny Boyd to india in advance of them making the trip themselves. Mal's role was to make sure everything was in order for his employers and to arrange transport for the group from Dehli Airport to their destination.

John and George travelled separately to Paul, Jane Asher and Ringo and his wife Maureen who arrived three days after. Paul may have stayed behind to oversee the mixing of the single "Lady Madonna" that would be released in their absence. However, this later arrival coupled with the fact that they would all eventually leave earlier demonstrated the difference in how seriously the two groups were taking this course. Ringo struggled with the food being served and Maureen could not cope with the spiders and scorpions that invaded their room every night. They were also missing their children, baby Jason at this time was just a few months old. Paul likened the experience to being at school and as such grew tired of the extended period away from home. He was also, most likely keen to get back to work.

And so our story begins in early April of 1968 with just John and George and their party remaining. Still fully intending to complete the course and qualify as Transcendental Meditation Yogis.

Whilst based on fact and featuring real people, my story, many incidents and conversations are fictional and should not be construed as real events.

© 2019 Nick Anthony

Author's Note

Nick Anthony
A factual part of the story. I'd be grateful for feedback. Especially about how the writing flows.

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Added on March 18, 2019
Last Updated on March 18, 2019
Tags: Beatles, John, Lennon, Yoko, Ono, Prudence, Dear, Revolution, Cynthia, Meditation, india, rishikesh, McCartney, Starr, Harrison


Nick Anthony
Nick Anthony

chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom

50 something now. Singleton, Father of 3. Musician and Beatle fanatic more..