At Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s abandoned, dilapidated ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, Phorum Dalal stumbles upon The Beatles Cathedral, an art project by artist Pan Trinity Das and a team of travellers
On a recent trip to Rishikesh, in Uttarakhand an aimless walk along the Ganga River toward Swarg Ashram led us to an abandoned, dilapidated structure, which was once occupied by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who had many celebrity followers, including the Beatles.
The ashram, which shut down in 1997, lies on the outskirts of Rajaji National Park. A guard let us in for a ‘fee’ of
Rs 50 (Rs 100 for foreigners). As we toured the meditation cells and guest houses, amid broken windows, green creepers and spider cobwebs, our feet stopped at the entrance of a lecture hall.
An artwork on a wall. pics courtesy/pan trinity das
Portraits of the Beatles, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Anandmayima, Paramhansa Yogananda etc amid colourful strokes of pop art on the walls greeted us. A project conducted by Canadian artist Pan Trinity Das, along with a group of travelling artists he met in 2012, he christened this space The Beatles Cathedral Gallery.
The artist plans to retouch the walls at The Beatles Catherdral Gallery every year
We tracked down the artist through the Facebook link he left on the wall. “I am from Peterborough in rural Ontario, Canada. But I never tell my real name,” he replied to our questions over email.
Pan Trinity Das (right) and his wife Kyrie Maezumi (second from right). He experiments with a variety of different styles of art, including abstract, figurative, portrait and Yoga-inspired. He also developed a passion for spiritual expression through Bhakti (devotional) Yoga
The artist, who recently finished giving the walls a retouch, calls his work Bhakti Spiritual pop-art. “It’s never a good idea to plan ahead. I always prefer to look at the space and see what people in the local area are interested in seeing. There’s nothing better then seeing the smiling faces of the people around you as you work, I think that’s why we’re so well received,” says Das, who usually collaborates with his wife, Kyrie Maezumi, on projects including street art.
(L-R) Portraits of the Dalai Lama, Prem Baba, Anandmayi Ma, the Beatles, Amma, Paramhansa Yogananda and Sivananda Saraswati
Recently they even created a fashion line for an LA Fashion week afterparty, a number of Environmental Street Art installations in Goa, an 85-foot mural for Delhi’s Water Board on Water Conservation.
Pan Trinity Das works on the portraits of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison
“We fund most of our own projects through commissioned work, sales of prints and our apparel. While, we’ve never done anything for the government, we do ask for permission whenever we do street art. They run the risk of it getting destroyed if you don’t. Then, it’s not really worth it,” he adds.
The final work
Street art involves a lot of interaction with locals and prying eyes of bystanders. “Most people are very positive. There are always those five per cent people who don’t believe that change is possible. So they see it as a waste of time,” says Das, who runs a design company YOUONLYALWAYS with his wife.
The entrance of the ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
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