The Beatles came to India in 1968, entering one of the most creative periods for rock and roll’s biggest band. The story of their creative journey is one of the most important in 20th century music.
At the height of their popularity and arguably the most famous people on the planet, the Beatles traveled to India, to the foothills of the Himalayas, to find something that all their fame and fortune could not give them. They went to find inner peace. For eight weeks they disappeared into an ashram to study meditation. No press or visitors were allowed.
Why did all four Beatles go to India? That they all went was significant. Each, in their own way, was looking to get away from their fame, from the cacophony of their busy lives. Looking for the quiet. Looking for…
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Paul Saltzman’s photo of John, finger to his ear, is the best picture I’ve ever seen of John Lennon from the Beatles’ era. It speaks volumes.
Flying at 32,000 feet, heading for India, I was excited, and scared. I knew I was searching for something. I was looking for a different ‘me’. But, who was that? And, how do I find him? And, what if ‘he’ didn’t exist? What then?
A few weeks later, I arrived in New Delhi. I was elated. A letter from my girlfriend back home was waiting for me. I can only remember her first line: “Dear Paul, I’ve moved in with Henry.” I was devastated. My heart felt crushed. I could barely breathe through the tears. I felt totally abandoned, alone.
Desperate to ease the pain, I left for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh to learn meditation. When I arrived at the gates, I learned that the ashram was closed because the Beatles were there. I confided in the official at the entrance, “But I need to learn meditation!” He responded, kindly, “I’m sorry. Not at the present time.”
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Paul’s meditative photographs from the ashram are unique. You never see the Beatles like this.
Donovan Leitch, Singer/Songwriter
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Saltzman’s images are irresistible—the more one looks into them, the more they relinquish their secrets.
Tim B. Wride, Curator of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum
India is many, many cultures—an amazing fusion of modern and ancient, of adventures and discoveries. I’ve been there more than 50 times, and each time is a new exploration. It’s the most colourful country of the many I’ve visited. It’s a cornucopia of remarkable people and places, of music and soul.
We will be a small intimate group, experiencing the great fusion of east and west that is India. Along with sightseeing; small, private music recitals; wandering and shopping, we’ll occasionally talk about life as we sip a cool drink and watch some of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. Above all, we’ll have great fun together.
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We’ve done many tours and this is the best tour we’ve ever been on. Paul was the best tour guide ever. The most wonderful thing about this “experience” is the memories that pop up at the least expected time. Exquisite!
Cheryl & Joe, BC, Canada
It was a mind and heart-expanding experience, Paul. I experienced India in a more personal and meaningful way because of your meditation experience and love for the culture.
Anne ON, Canada