The Beatles’ Indian spiritual retreat overgrown by forest

The group visited the transcendental meditation retreat in Rishikesh during March and April 1968

The site of The Beatles‘ famous 1968 spiritual retreat in northern India has become overgrown by forest and wildlife, according to reports.

The Fab Four visited a transcendental meditation sanctuary in the forest near Rishikesh during March and April of that year, seeking enlightenment with plans to write songs while there. Whilst their productivity was high (the band allegedly wrote 48 songs for ‘The White Album’ during this period), the stay was ultimately cut short, after guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was accused of making sexual advances to fellow guest, actress Mia Farrow.

The site has since become a place of pilgrimage for Beatles fans but, as BBC News reports, the sanctuary – or ashram, as it is known in India – has long been left to nature.

“Today the ashram is a ghostly relic of [The Beatles’] days,” BBC correspondent Soutik Biswas, who recently visited the site, writes. “Mildewed and grotty stone and concrete buildings peep out of overgrown bushes and thick forests in a national park where some 1,700 elephants live, alongside tigers and leopards.” The article points out that the ashram, which was opened by Maharishi in 1957, was abandoned in the mid-70s.

One Beatles fan told the BBC, “This place is a pilgrimage for Beatles fans. They come from all over the world. I had to bring my family here.” Meanwhile, a local resident said, “The gods have left the place, but the devotees keep on coming.” Scroll below to see photos from the group’s stay in Rishikesh.

Earlier this week, it was announced that The Beatles’s iconic 1967 album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonley Hearts Club Band’ is to be taught to GCSE music students. Britain’s biggest exam board, the AQA, recently outlined plans for all students to study three songs from the LP – ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, ‘With A Little Bit Of Help From My Friends’ and ‘Within You Without You’ – as part of their education.

They will be asked to study the melody, harmony structure and rhythm – and the meaning of the lyrics which, in the case of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, have been debated by Beatles’ fans for years.

Meanwhile, a recent study focusing on musical trends found The Beatles and The Rolling Stones did not “revolutionise” music but instead followed patterns that had already existed.