‘Beatles in India’ exhibition opens to mark band's tryst with India in 1968

The award-winning ‘The Beatles Story' in Liverpool has unveiled a new special exhibition celebrating 50 years since The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India.

The exhibition explores the particulars of John Lennon and George Harrison's trip to Rishikesh. Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool
The exhibition explores the particulars of John Lennon and George Harrison's trip to Rishikesh. Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool

The exhibition explores this key and a relatively secretive episode of the Beatles’ story with memorabilia, imagery and exclusive personal accounts from the people who were there with the band in 1968.

Quite a bit of the Beatles tryst with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, their vow to give up drugs in favour of Transcendental Meditation, heartbreaks, breakups and bursts of creativity that marked the band's quest for quietude and spirituality in Rishikesh in 1968 has remained shrouded in secrecy.

The Beatles Story is the world’s largest permanent exhibition in their hometown Liverpool and is devoted to telling the story of the band's rise to fame. It opened on February 15 2018, commemorating 50 years of the day when John Lennon, George Harrison and their wives Cynthia Lennon and Pattie Boyd arrived in India. The exhibition will run for two years.

 Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool
Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool
 Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool
Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool
 It opened on February 15 2018, commemorating 50 years of the day when John Lennon, George Harrison and their wives Cynthia Lennon and Pattie Boyd arrived in India
The exhibition opened on February 15, 2018, commemorating 50 years of the day when John Lennon, George Harrison and their wives Cynthia Lennon and Pattie Boyd arrived in India. Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool

A sitar used by Ravi Shankar is on display within the new immersive area, loaned to The Beatles Story by the Ravi Shankar Foundation. As George Harrison’s mentor, Ravi Shankar’s influence on the Beatle ultimately helped popularise the use of Indian instruments in 1960s pop music.

The exhibits also include photographs by Paul Saltzman, a sound engineer for the National Film Board of Canada at the time, who photographed The Beatles during their stay. He is responsible for some of the most iconic and intimate images of the Fab Four in India.

A collection of Paul’s limited edition signed prints are available to view within the exhibition, as well as a life-sized version of his famous image depicting the Beatles with their entourage and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

[LEFT] Jenny Boyd, a Ph.D, author, Swinging 60's model, former wife of drummer Mick Fleetwood, sister-in-law to both Beatle George Harrison and Eric Clapton. [CENTRE] Pattie Boyd, the Swinging 60’s model, the first wife of George Harrison who met when she was in school, and is the only surviving ‘First Wife of a Beatle’.  [RIGHT] Paul Saltzman, who photographed the Boyd sisters with The Beatles  in Rishikesh in 1968
[LEFT] Jenny Boyd, a Ph.D, author, Swinging 60's model, former wife of drummer Mick Fleetwood, sister-in-law to both Beatle George Harrison and Eric Clapton. [CENTRE] Pattie Boyd, the Swinging 60’s model, the first wife of George Harrison who met when she was in school, and is the only surviving ‘First Wife of a Beatle’. [RIGHT] Paul Saltzman, who photographed the Boyd sisters with The Beatles in Rishikesh in 1968. Photo courtesy: The Beatles Story Liverpool

Pattie Boyd, former wife of George Harrison, and her sister Jenny Boyd, who accompanied The Beatles in India, provide their personal insight into the time through interviews. The interviews explore the groups’ inspiration for the trip, their introduction into Transcendental Meditation, the songs they worked on in advance of the White Album and some of the controversies surrounding their visit.

“I am delighted to have been invited to be a part of The Beatles Story’s new ‘Beatles In India’ exhibition, marking the 50th anniversary of the trip to Rishikesh. It really was a special, magical time; forming many memories and, of course, an abundance of great Beatles music. I look forward to sharing thoughts and memories of India,” Pattie said.

Themed areas within the exhibition encompass some of the authentic colours, sounds and smells of Rishikesh so that visitors can really get a sense of what it was like for the Beatles.

‘The Bungalow’ set provides insight into the Beatles’ living quarters, an area used by the attendees for songwriting. It features a 2014 signature version of Donovan’s Gibson 1965 J-45 acoustic guitar.

The day, February 15,  2018 also recognises what would’ve been George Harrison’s 75th birthday – the Beatle celebrated his 25th birthday with friends at the Ashram. Celebrations for this will form part of a year-long programme of unique Indian-inspired events, including workshops and Q&A sessions.

To purchase tickets and more information visit beatlesstory.com.

Author
Pradeep Rana
Pradeep Rana – Senior Correspondent

Pradeep Rana has worked as a journalist with news ​agencies UNI and PTI, newspapers Indian Express and The Times Of India, and television channel NHK as South Asia Correspondent. He has also worked as Media Analyst at US Embassy, and edited several magazines and a medical handbook.

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