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Beatles Indian retreat open to the public

Authorities charge for access to abandoned ashram where the band penned tracks for The White Album

An abandoned spiritual retreat in India where The Beatles wrote songs for their White Album has been opened to the public.

The band spent time at the retreat in the town of Rishikesh in 1968 where they learned to meditate and also penned a number of tracks.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ran the ashram but it was abandoned by him and his followers in the 1970s. It was taken over by the local forestry department in 2003 but remained a big draw for fans of the fab four. Many fans snuck in or paid a small bribe to a security guard to gain access, according to the BBC.

Authorities opened the ashram to visitors this week and are charging up to 700 rupees (£7) for entry.

Forestry official Rajendra Nautiyal says: "We have cleaned up the place and lined the pathways with flowers. We are making some gardens and putting some benches for visitors.

"We are introducing a nature trail and bird walk. We also plan to set up a cafeteria and a souvenir shop at some point. We want to retain the place's rustic look."

The Beatles planned to spend three months at the ashram but Ringo Starr left after 10 days, Paul McCartney lasted a month and John Lennon and George Harrison left after six weeks.

Last week, a drum kit owned by Starr sold for £1.4million at auction.

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