Sep 2, 2017

Beatles’ Liverpool museum to celebrate 50 years of the Fab Four at Mahesh Yogi’s ashram

Seema Sharma
September 2, 2017

DEHRADUN: In welcome news for Uttarakhand residents as well as fans of the Beatles everywhere, the Beatles Story of Liverpool, UK, the largest repository of memorabilia connected to the legendary band, is going to hold a yearlong celebration to observe a half-century of the band, at Chaurasi Kutia in Rishikesh.

The celebrations, which will commence from February next year, will be at the site which has become renowned as Beatles’ Ashram. In 1968, while the band was trying to deal with internal differences, they travelled to the ashram run by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, near Rajaji National Park. They stayed at the ashram for three months, learnt transcendental meditation and wrote 40 songs, 18 of which were later a part of ‘The White Album’. On December 8, 2015, the ashram was opened by the state government to the public for visits.

A delegation including Beatles Story marketing manager Diane Glover visited the ashram sometime ago, following a visit by David Lelliott and his wife. The renewed interest in the ashram has enthused the state tourism and forest departments, who are also planning to contribute to the celebrations.

Tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said, “This is great news for us. Our holy town, Rishikesh, and the whole state will be promoted at an international level. Chaurasi Kutia is an important site for us. So we will also celebrate 50 years of the Beatles with a museum at the ashram containing Beatles memorabilia.”

The ashram, which earlier belonged to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was run by him till 2003. The forest land, which is now in the core zone known as Gohri range of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, was leased to him for 20 years. After the lease expired in 1981, the yogi continued to stay and finally left the ashram along with his followers in 2003. It has been with the state government ever since. There were complications related to getting approval and then funds from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to open the ashram for tourists.

Sanatan Sonkar, director of Rajaji Tiger Reserve said, “We will take permission from NTCA to renovate some of the dilapidated structures such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s hall and also repair a wall around the ashram. A couple of interpretation centers and cafeteria will also be built. Besides, accommodations including 48 rooms will also be renovated. They will be used for different purposes, including as training centres for forest officials and guest houses for visitors. Soon we will apply to Eco-tourism Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (ETDCU) for funding for the project.”

Managing director of ETDCU, Anup Soni said that the corporation would support this proposal from Rajaji Tiger Reserve, if it has all the required sanctions from NTCA. “We must encourage regulated tourism in Chaurasi Kutia as this heritage property has all the potential to become world famous,” he said.

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