Rishikesh is a happening religious place on the Ganges river. Despite the constant bustle about town, it remains a holy place that makes one feel grounded. It has the constant noises of a holy river town: the sound of water rushing and temple bells ringing. Then, because Indians like to visit their spiritual sites en masse, there are the normal Asian sounds of too many people in a space: honking tuktuks, shouting salesmen, and screaming babies. Unique to Rishikesh are the screams from hundreds of white water rafters ripping down the river.
There is disagreement on wether the rafting is a good use of the holy Ganges River, but the perpetual shouts of delight enticed us enough to venture down the stream. The rapids were not too aggressive, but we had a thrilling time in a raft of ashram folk, shouting mantras as we past our residence, drinking chai at the cliff jumping point, and practicing non-attachment when we lost shoes to the river.
Also in Rishikesh, amongst the piles of ashrams which mechanically process western travelers, there is one special and magical retired ashram. Closed in 1997, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram has gained charm by replacing visitors with tangling forest undergrowth. The former residence of the ashram, including the Beatles, stayed in one of the small one story circular rooms. A spiral staircase in each leads to the roof where an egg shaped meditation chamber can comfortably hold five meditators.
Just before dusk, myself and four of my new friends, set out to photograph the Maharishi remains. We climbed over the high stone wall and dropped into an imaginary world. Inside the abandoned dining hall with graffiti adorned walls we danced our hearts out to 'Come Together' with the sun playing on our faces as it poured in through the mostly shattered window panes. After the ruckus dance party I convinced the party to switch moods for a group meditation.
After a week at Phool Chatti Ashram, a place of letting go, I instructed everyone to take a petal from the yellow five petaled flower growing outside Meditation Hut 1. Holding the petal, we each named something to hold on to. We then sat in a circle in the egg. For one minute we sat in silent meditation followed by meditating to 'Let it Be.' We filled the space with beautiful energy. Racing the setting sun, we set back over the stone wall feeling an incredible appreciation for the magic that created the White Album.