Half-ruined buildings with broken windows. Paths overgrown with grass. Futuristic spherical cells bordering a forest. There is complete silence here.
This famous and serene place has a wild and mystical appearance. Perhaps this is because of Maharashi ashram, also known as, “The Beatles’ ashram.” In the second half of the last century, this legendary quartet visited the ashram and made him world famous.
Maharashi was one of the most famous Indian gurus in the world, and the founder of the transcendental meditation. Maharashi Mahesh Yogi met The Beatles in the mid 1960s. After watching a lecture at their home, the musicians decided to experiment with spiritual practices, along with their narcotic consumption, and go to India.
They stopped in Rishikesh, in the then-new and well-equipped ashram. It was of huge territory at more than 50 square kilometers! Under the guidance of a guru, the band began learning transcendental meditation. Their stay in the ashram did not last long. John Lennon and George Harrison stayed only two months. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr stayed even less. Despite their short stays, this was one of their most creative periods as a band. Many songs from the famous White Album were conceived there.
The Beatles’ breakup with Maharashi has been the subject of many rumours and is still shrouded in mystery. Whatever actually happened there, The Beatles later apologized to the guru, and have since said very positive things about their experiences and the time they spent there.
Today, this once-famous place is a deserted ruin. In 1980, the local authorities took the lease from Maharashi’s land and changed the land’s status to a national park. After the ashram ceased to exist, its founder went to Europe, where he died in 2008.
Now an area for wildlife, the Maharashi ashram continues to be a very picturesque and mystical place, and the destination of many travelers who want to touch history.
Rishikund is a holy well located near the Triveni Ghat. This is one of the most important destinations for devotees in Rishikesh. According to ancient beliefs, the goddess Yamuna filled the well with holy water. Not far from the well, there is the Raghunath Temple, dedicated to Lord Rama and his wife Sita.
25 kilometers east of Rishikesh, is one of the most famous temples of Shiva – Neelkanth Mahade, which translates to, “The Blue Throated Lord of the Gods.”
There is an interesting legend connected with this nickname and Shiva temple. Millions of years ago the gods and the demons wanted to become immortal. To get an elixir of immortality, Lord Vishnu told them to churn the ocean, which they did for hundred years. A strange liquid then emerged on the ocean’s surface. The gods and demons recognized the mystery liquid as a terrible poison, which had the capacity to destroy all life on the Earth. The others watched in horror as Lord Shiva bravely downed the poison, ready for whatever was to come. But he didn’t swallow the liquid death. He held it in his throat, turning his throat blue.
A temple was built where Shiva drank the poison. It was named Neelkanth Mahadev. Later, an elixir appeared on the surface of the ocean. This time, the gods drank it and become immortal. Then Vishnu turned into a beautiful woman and intercepted the demons.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is situated in a beautiful landscape. Although there is a modern road leading to the area, it is more interesting to get there on foot, along the old pilgrim trail. Several ashrams run along the trail, which lead through the picturesque forest. Before going down to the village, the trail rises up on a spur of the mountain. Along the way you will surely meet some monkeys. But be careful! These seemingly lovely animals will steal your food if it’s left unguarded.
Just an hour drive from Rishikesh, and upstream of the Ganges, there is the cave where the famous Vashista used to meditate. He was one of the seven great sages (Saptarishis) and the guru of Lord Ram.
According to popular beliefs, after the death of his children, Vashistha Muni came here to commit suicide. However, the Holy Mother Ganges failed in his attempt. Arundhati, Vashishta’s wife, fell in love with this area and decided to live there.
In the mid-twentieth century, Swami Purshottamanand arrived and maintained it. Nearby is a small Shiva lingam, which is considered to be sacred.
In the cave, the atmosphere is calm and pleasant, and is known as an ideal place for meditation.
Located at a distance of 19 km from Rishikesh, the town of Shivpuri is situated on the banks of the Ganges. This place is famous for a temple that’s dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also known for beach camping on the banks of the Great River. When camping, visitors can have an opportunity for unforgettable rafting down the river for 16 km length. The valley of the Ganges has many scenic views, with its lush and green flora.
Kundzhapuri Devi temple, located around 15 km from Rishikesh at the altitude of 1600 meters above sea level, is one of the most revered Hindu shrines. According to legend, the upper-half of the goddess, Sati’s body fell when her husband, Lord Shiva, was carrying her to Mount Kailash.
From the top of the hill you can see a breathtaking view of the mighty Himalayas and the holy towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar.
In Hindi, “Haridwar” means “Gate to God.” Haridwar is one of seven the major holy towns of Hinduizm. It gained worldwide fame thanks to the Ganga Ghat (river embankment of the Ganges), temples and, of course, a massive religious festival of Kumbha Mela.
According to legend, Haridwar is one of the four places in India where the immortality nectar drops fell to, which were created by the deva’s and asura’s ocean churning. Since that time, in these places (except for Haridwar these are: Ujjain, Nashik and Allahabad) every three years the biggest Hindu festival of Kumbha Mela is held, which attracts millions of devotees and tourists from all over the world.
The Temple of Mansa Devi and Har ki Puri Ghat are the most significant tourist attractions of the city.
Uttarakhand State attracts tourists with different tastes and preferences. If you are a wildlife lover, then you should plan your visit to Chilla, which is located in the famous Rajaji National Park. This park, which is spread over a huge area (820 square kilometers) in the foothills of Shivalik, is home to 23 species of mammals and 315 species of birds. In Chilla you can go on a jeep safari and see elephants, panthers, tigers, bears, boar, pythons, lizards, cobras, and many other animals.
Chamba town is hidden among the woods at an altitude of 1676 meters in the Tehri district of Uttarakhand state. This region attracts tourists because of its beauty, calm, and unspoiled nature. Pine forests surround the town create a magical energy. The lifestyle and culture of the people who live in small villages around Chamba is also very interesting.
Chamba town is a two hour drive from Rishikesh by bus or car, and there are tourist bungalows to stay overnight.
Jumpin Heights is a place for adventure lovers, located in Mohan Chatti, which is about 15 kilometers from the Lakshman Jhoola in Rishikesh.
This extremely popular entertainment park offers fun and extreme activities such as bungee jumping from the bridge, giant canyon swings, and the “flying fox,” which has the longest walk in Asia. In order to ensure reliability and safety, the equipment has been designed under the supervision New Zealand’s best specialists.