In 1968, The Beatles visited an ashram in Rishikesh to study meditation with Mahrishi Mahesh Yogi and the trip got widespread media attention, influenced Western attitudes about Indian spirituality and music, made an impact on fashion,  and encouraged the study of Transcendental Meditation. The Beatles’ visit was one of the band’s most productive songwriting periods. John Lennon said: “Paul must have done about a dozen. George says he’s got six, and I wrote fifteen”. Even Ringo Starr wrote his first song, “Don’t Pass Me By, ”  in Rishikesh. Many of those songs were on “the White Album”, others on Abbey Road, and solo records.

The Brit musician Donavan was in Rishikesh, at the ashram, at the same time as the Beatles, and he taught Lennon a guitar finger-picking techniques subsequently implemented by Lennon on the Beatles songs “Julia” and “Dear Prudence.”

Rishikesh was calling me: The Beatles. Donavan. Meditation. The “‘yoga capital of the world!”   (Back in the 70s, my Cambridge Yoga teacher spent time here and had an out-of-body experience.) Plus, while in India, it just so happened that my pranayama teacher had studied with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogl—though he never met the Beatles.  I thought it might be a good place to check into an ashram.

I didn’t.

Maybe it was the hot, humid  weather, or the fact that I happened to be the only westerner in town, or the noise. I couldn’t wait to get out of this town along the Ganges.

Rishikesh = hair (rishi) + of the sage (kesh).

Which would you rather have parked in front of your beauty salon?
The town was full of tourists, all from India. Because it was July, ( rainy and hot), I happened to be the only Westerner & the only blonde in town.
Broken sidewalks are everywhere and are quite normal throughout India. No drain covers,  so I imagine a child or dog could easily disappear down the sewer.
People gather in groups. Some buying snacks from fry shop on the right.
Health care? Many Indians practice Ayurvedic medicine, which requires knowledge of herbs, spices and food.
Typical reading list for “western” visitors to Rishikesh.


Rageev and Robyn exiting typical snack shop. Robyn wanted a Fanta.
They were in Rishikesh helping me to find an ashram.
Making inquiries.


A typical ashram owner. Orange is a sacred color, symbolizing the Quest for Knowledge. It represents fire and as impurities are burnt away by fire, orange symbolizes purity and religious abstinence. Holy men in India wear orange. Not all me who wear orange are holy. Some men take up the color to get away from family responsibility ( taking care of children) and to give credence to begging profession
Beggar in Orange ( perhaps a Holy Man, or wanting to be recognized as a Holy Man)  inviting me to give him money.
I din’t give him money and he turned sour.
A pair of vendors in Rishikesh. They aren’t selling olives! Not sure what the black ovals are, perhaps a fruit.
This happy fellow with his shoes stacked behind him is selling beans and pulses, protein staples of the Hindu diet.
Time for lunch? Looks like this restaurant is a favorite spot for Indian tourists.
One of the strangest things I saw in India was this man who was very decorated and with painted skin sitting on a dais outside a restaurant. He was the restaurant’s ‘live’ advertisement . Notice his socks. Maybe he is Lord Krishna?
Small Hindu Temple. I was satisfied to have visited and to have not found a suitable ashram in Rishikesh.