If you are a Beatles fan in India, this piece of news will cheer you up.
Abandoned since 1997, the ashram in Rishikesh where the Beatles stayed, learned transcendental meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, tried coping with spicy food and wrote about 48 songs is open to the public.
Thirty five years after Lennon's death, on the anniversary of his assassination by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980, the Uttarakhand government on Tuesday opened what the locals call the Beatles Ashram to the public
The Uttarakhand government has refurbished and opened the iconic retreat location for the public on Tuesday.
The Ashram, open for all, is charging Indians Rs 150 and foreign tourists Rs 650 for entry.
After Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who used run the ashram, abandoned it, his followers did the same. In 2003, it was taken over by the local forestry department nd the doors were closed.
However, it remained a big draw with Beatles fans from all over the world. They would usually sneak in by climbing the walls or paying a small bribe to a gatekeeper. They don't have to do that anymore. In fact, the tourist spot will now also offer bird walks and nature trials among other things.
Neena Grewal, director RTR, who took the initiative to spruce up the ashram, told The Times of India, "The ashram has been visited by Beatles fans ever since the band came here way back in 1968. We will revive the Beatles' association with the ashram and also restore their huts. New brochures and maps will soon be made available. The ruins will be maintained as heritage structures."
Flowers have been laid on the pathway and nature walks are now being planned at the spot.
"We are making some gardens and putting some benches for visitors. We are introducing a nature trial and bird walk. We also plan to set up a cafeteria and a souvenir shop at some point. We want to retain the place's rustic look," Rajendra Nautiyal, a senior forestry official, told BBC.
Uttarakhand Forest Minister Dinesh Aggarwal wants visitors to come to the ashram not just for the Beatles connection. "We plan to include a yoga learning centre and meditation classes at a later stage. Our aim is to ensure that visitors don’t simply come for the Beatles connection but to learn the magic of nature, meditation and yoga," he told Indian Express.
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