The year was 1968. Four hallowed visitors left the speedy life of London and reached Rishikesh, a city in India's northern state of Uttarakhand, located in the Himalayan foothills besides the holy river Ganges.

Beatlemania was in full swing then, but the Beatles themselves were grief-stricken over the sudden death of their manager and struggling to reboot their identity.

They were to learn Transcendental Meditation in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in a quest to find some inner peace.

The spiritually inclined George Harrison and John Lennon arrived in New Delhi on Feb. 16 and took the road towards the hill city for Maharishi's ashram.

Close behind them were practical-minded Paul McCartney, who was less sure about giving up his music and fame for an illusive mystical path, and Ringo Starr, the band's good-natured drummer, carrying suitcases full of Heinz baked beans in case the ashram's food failed to satisfy his appetite.

Although the Fab Four stayed in the ashram for the period of two months, those days are remembered as silver linings for the band, enabling them to write almost 40 songs, most of which made it to the White Album (1968) and Abbey Road (1969).

In Rishikesh, which recently marked the 50th year of the Beatles' stay in the area, they are still celebrated as legends of the Sixties.

Hardly anything is left of Maharishi's ashram, today called the Beatles ashram, but the ruins of the complex abandoned in 1997 are still cherished by music lovers as well as yoga enthusiasts visiting from all around the world.

"I came here to Rishikesh to learn yoga, but what fascinated me to visit this ashram was the combination of meditation with music. I wanted to see how the ashram was popular among the Beatles and I am amazed that even after 50 years the place still is famous because of them," said 35-year-old Re Rinshin, who teaches yoga in Beijing.

Some years back, local authorities converted the remains of the ashram into an eco-friendly tourism destination, featuring nature walks and bird watching in addition to the ruins and Beatles graffiti.

"Even though it is an abandoned complex, this place is all about the Beatles," said first-time visitor Ajay Semwal, a 23-year-old yoga student from Dehradun.

"I am happy that Rishikesh is celebrating the 50th year of the Beatles stay and I believe it becomes not only the house of yoga but also a place remembered for music and peace," he said.

Besides the ashram, Rishikesh has another stop that celebrates the Beatles. The 1960's themed Cafe Delmar, also known as the Beatles Cafe, is one place that offers its visitors plenty of glimpses of the band.

"We started with this theme-based cafe on Dec. 15, 2011. When I came to know that the Beatles have stayed in Rishikesh, this was what I came up with as my way to pay tribute to the band," said cafe manager Keith Dympep, 30, from the northeastern state of Meghalaya.

He came to Rishikesh as a fresh college graduate after finding work in a famous resort of the city.

"This cafe is like living a dream for me because I always wanted to do my own business but never thought that I would start so early. The Beatles being one of my favorite bands, I couldn't stop myself starting with this cafe as it fulfilled my dream of starting my business and also reliving the era of the band," he said.

Opening at noon, the cafe stays open until 9:30 p.m. and receives up to 150 tourists a day.

"The Sixties was a golden era and I believe that is the prime reason why the cafe with a theme like this should be opened for the visitors," he said.

It was Pattie Boyd, Harrison's first wife, who introduced the band to Transcendental Meditation in 1967, hoping for the group to stay together.

She came in contact with the Transcendental Meditation movement and Maharishi. Harrison's love of Indian music inspired him take up the opportunity.

The band attended a lecture by the guru at the Hilton in London on Aug. 24 that year. After the lecture, Maharishi invited the band to Bangor in north Wales to attend an introductory seminar a few days later.

Their attendance at the seminar was cut short when news broke of the death of their manager Brian Epstein, who brought them to international stardom.

However, seeking to deepen their knowledge of Transcendental Meditation, the band made plans to travel to the guru's ashram in Rishikesh the following year.

Their seven-week stay at the ashram inspired them to write many new songs and is regarded as having played a key role in delaying the breakup of the band.

Today, the Beatles are remembered for their contributions to pop culture, and the 50th anniversary of their trip to Rishikesh is testament to their lasting popularity.