What is an ashram?
An ashram is a religious retreat, a monastery. What’s inside are all the basic necessities you need. Some ashrams allows you to stay for free, provided you volunteer your time and energy to help the community.
Ashrams are meant for long-term stays, a week doesn’t count. Rooms are as cheap as USD2-5 per day. Ashrams are like hostels, but you have to cook your own food or eat out. And no advance bookings allowed. We were lucky to be given a room facing the Ganges River and the Ram Jhula Bridge. What cost us USD 2 for this room would cost us USD 200++++ in other parts of the world.
Our wanderings led us to the meditation cave of the Beatles. The Beatles visited Rishikesh in India in February 1968 to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the Chaurasi Kutia Ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
We’ve been into many ashrams around India, but this one is one of a kind. Formerly known as International Academy of Meditation, also called the Chaurasi Kutia ashram, made popular by The Beatles, which explains the change in name to The Beatles’ Ashram.
Unlike the room at the ashrams where we are staying at, the Beatle’s Ashrams have an egg-like structure. A ladder leads you to the top where one can sit underneath the stars at night and meditate. These meditation caves were designed as such to give an illusion of sound when a person starts humming.
Traveller tip: If the self-appointed ‘Saddhu’ guard at the entrance told you that there’s no entry to the ashram, fret not. Entrance to the ashram is actually free but, well, you know how it all works don’t ya? Say Namaste with a smile and palms together over your chest, hand over 100 rupees and in you go. The forest has reclaimed the ashram through the years, so there are spiders, snakes, wild deers and monkeys in there to keep you company.