In good news for Beatles fans, ahead of the 50th anniversary of their visit to Rishikesh, falling on 15 February, the Uttarakhand forest department has decided to reduce entry fee to the erstwhile Mahesh Yogi Ashram by 50 per cent for foreign tourists. The state tourism department will also host a Beatles festival in the holy township.
The Rajaji Tiger Reserve of the state forest department currently controls the Ashram of Mahesh Yogi, dubbed the Beatles ashram, where the boys from Liverpool came to learn meditation and composed many of their popular songs in 1968.
Uttarakhand Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat said, “The entry fee for foreign tourists will be reduced from Rs 600 per head to Rs 300 and for Indians the price has been slashed from Rs 150 to Rs 100. There is a lot of excitement the world over about 50 year of Beatles in Rishikesh. We will be cooperating with the tourism department in the celebrations.”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi took 15 acres of land from the then Uttar Pradesh Forest Department at Rishikesh in 1961. The lease was for 20 years and after that, despite its best efforts, the Ashram administration failed to get it renewed. In 1999, the Supreme Court passed a judgment asking the forest department to remove all illegal lease holders from reserve forest land, forcing the Mahesh Yogi Ashram administration to abandon the place.
The state forest department has also agreed to provide free entry to the Mahesh Yogi ashram to foreign and Indian tourists coming to attend the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. The Yoga festival will be organised by the Uttarakhand Tourism Department in the first week of March.
The International Yoga Festival registers a big footfall of foreign tourists in the holy township. This time the Uttarakhand government is keen on organising a joint Yoga and Beatles festival to woo foreign tourists.