Parmarth Niketan Ashram was interesting, but I felt surrounded by people who were trying to ‘find’ themselves. I need to go back there, I didn’t quite get the whole experience; it was all a bit too well weeded and set out for my comfort, yet with a lingering smell of cabage. Just a passing thought; if you are going to stay overnight in one of the Ashram rooms please take a battery operated fan with you. I absconded after one night. If you’re going to Parmarth Niketan Ashram take the boat over from the main road that comes into Rishikesh, the Ashram is on the other side of the Ganges; if you don’t opt for the boat then you’re looking at a considerable car drive around the mountains.
The Ashram where the Beatles stayed in 1968, Chaurasi Kuti, is just up the road. The Ashram sits on 150 foot cliff over-looking the Ganges. You’ll no doubt remember the photos of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatles’ guru, and the developer of Transcendental meditiation; he had a 20 year lease on the land, and when it ran out the land reverted back to the Government. It’s now derelict but the Beatles had spent their time drawing on walls, meditating, seeking solace and writing 48 songs, including Back in the USSR, Dear Prudence (inspired by Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence, who was staying at the ashram at the same time), I’m So Tired (which Lennon wrote after suffering from three weeks of poor sleep at the Ashram) and Let It Be. Fantastic experience, totally loved it. The Ashram hasn’t been commercialised in any way which leaves it with a genuine spiritual feeling; a step back in time, quiet, dark and still.
The first photo is Parmarth Niketan Ashram. The rest are from Chaurasi Kuti Ashram. So very different.