Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold in West Virginia – One small religious community and one huge wonder of a Hindu palace

Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold in West Virginia – One small religious community and one huge wonder of a Hindu palace

by Jason M. on his Long Strange Trip Blog, posted 06-19-13

For those that wish to see the amazing landmarks of India but simply can’t afford that expensive plane ticket, there’s a discount substitute right here in the United States.  The New Vrindaban (or Prabhupada’s) Palace of Gold, located in West Virginia, is a huge Hindu-inspired building placed within a community of Krishna devotees.
The town of New Vrindaban was first founded in 1968 as a religious community.  It began as a place where people could come and stay for a while, but eventually people settled there and created a permanent town.  Today, there is a population of approximately 370 people living there, a community of vegetarian Krishnas that abhor drinking and drugs.

The Palace of Gold itself is one of a few religious buildings at the site, but is by far the most impressive.  It began as a residence for the leading Swami of the community but he died before it was finished.  Instead, it would be dedicated to him as a memorial shrine.  The Palace of Gold was finished and opened to the public 1979.

The building is crafted of marble and teakwood and highlighted with gold and onyx.  Decorations consist of things such as stained glass, terraces and sculpted gardens surrounding the palace.  This modern day wonder is said to have cost the community around $600,000 (in 1970s dollars), though none of that was in labor costs.  All the work was done voluntarily, by people who learned their trade as they worked.

Today, the Palace of Gold is a tourist attraction and major source of income for the community, attracting somewhere around 50,000 tourists a year, including many Hindus who come there to worship.  Unfortunately, the building has been losing the battle to time and is falling apart due to poor maintenance.  Current plans are to invest more than $4 million to restore it, though where that money will come from remains to be seen.  To learn more about the Palace of Gold, check out their official website.

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