Anand Srivastava, a trustee of the Maharishi Yogi Trust (2nd from L) with Rajaji Tiger Reserve director Sanatan Sonkar(2nd from R) at the ashram in Rishikesh.
Almost two years after it was opened for the visitors, fans of English band The Beatles will get a chance to go through rare photos and documents at Rishikesh’s Chaurasi Kutia where the Fab Four stayed in the ’60s.
The members of the band- Ringo, George, Paul and John- visited Chaurasi Kutia ashram in February 1968 (now part of Rajaji Tiger Reserve) to learn transcendental meditation from spiritual guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. During their stay here for nearly two months, the Beatles penned 48 popular numbers.
The Beatles’ India visit will complete 50 years in coming February. The Uttarakhand government intends to showcase the event in a big way, but it lacks access to material of archival value related to the Beatles’ visit. Presently, visitors to the ashram get a chance to see a couple of wall paintings, done by some others.
Due to technicalities of procurement rules and lack of funds, the state government found it difficult to participate in international auctions to buy photos or other stuff associated with the band. Even as the state forest department was busy finding a way out, the Maharishi Yogi Trust has stepped in and offered help. Anand Shrivastava, nephew of Mahesh Yogi and a trustee of Maharishi’s spiritual movement in India, recently held talks with the Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) director and agreed to donate some rare photos and documents – mostly newspaper clippings — which will be no less a treat for the international fans.
“We held a fruitful meeting with the trustees of Maharishi Yogi Trust and they have offered archival material. We plan to have the rare memories related to the band’s India visit by February,” RTR director Sanatan Sonkar told HT. “We are optimistic that visitors will get divine and knowledge experience,” Anand Shrivastava said in an email.
A section of the ashram was thrown open to the visitors in December 2015 after the Uttarakhand Wildlife Board decided to start eco-tourism activities. Since Chaurasi Kutia is inside the RTR, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has given access to a limited part of the ashram as wild animals like leopards and elephants are often spotted there.
The RTR remains open to tourists from November 15 to June 15. But the visitors can go to the Beatles ashram area round the year.
Mahesh Yogi, it is learnt, obtained a 20-year lease of 15 acres from the Uttar Pradesh forest department to set up the ashram where igloo-type huts were erected. The lease expired in 1981 and this area came under the jurisdiction of Rajaji National Park (now RTR) in 2003.