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Rebuilding on the Beatles, an Ashram in India Hopes for Revival

Rebuilding on the Beatles, an Ashram in India Hopes for Revival
From New York Times - January 14, 2018

The ashram remained operational for many decades after the band left, housing dozens of straight-backed sadhus, or holy men, in small domed huts. But in the early 2000s, the land was taken over by the Indian government, leading to its abandonment, except for wandering leopards and elephants from a nearby nature reserve. In 2008, the Maharishi, who had moved to Europe, died.

By the time the ashram was reopened to the public in 2015, part of a campaign to draw tourists to the area, most of the buildings had been vandalized by young lovers, who had hobbled over broken security walls to scrawl sweet nothings, and the occasional phallus, on the mildewed walls of remaining structures.

An industrial, open-air building nicknamed The Beatles Cathedral Gallery was also co-opted by an artists collective and filled with hundreds of quotes from the bands songs.

Tourist numbers are still low, with around 13,000 people, mostly Indians, visiting the ashram last year. But Macarena Arraez, 30, from Spain, brightened when asked about the planned renovations, saying the ashram had great potential for raves and fashion photo shoots.

Relaxing outside the meditation caves, Ms. Arraez had spent part of the morning meditating, and the experience had left her overwhelmed. I was looking for the most spiritual place in the world and thats what I found, she said.

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