Uncover this peaceful palace in an unexpected place
Tucked into the mountains of Marshall County in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle is something you’d least expect to see: an Indian palace, glittering gold against a backdrop of forested hills and farmlands.
The palace is a feast for the eyes – its splendor earning it a nod from CNN as one of “8 Religious Wonders to See in the U.S.”
The New Vrindaban community near Moundsville began construction on the Palace of Gold in the early 1970s for A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada during his visits from his home in India. Alas, the religious leader passed away in 1977 before it was completed. Members of the Hare Krishna community converted the palace into a memorial, inviting the public to come visit it and its beautiful grounds.
Sunlight filters through more than 30 stained-glass windows and plays off crystal chandeliers and mirrored ceilings. 4 royal peacock windows display more than 1,500 pieces of hand-crafted stained glass. Murals depicting ancient Indian classics grace the ceilings, while walls and pillars are accented with semi-precious stones and 22-karat gold leaf. Marble floors and inlaid walls finish off its elegant interior design.
The palace’s hilltop location offers scenic vistas of 3 states, and its grounds are adorned with flower gardens, a lake, water fountains and walking paths. The award-winning Palace Rose Garden features more than 150 varieties of roses, while the Garden of Time displays a colorful variety of geraniums, marigolds, zinnias, blue salvias and dahlias. Behind the palace, the Lotus Pond emits its sweet fragrance, attracting the swans that reside at the nearby temple lake. You may also come across ducks and roving peacocks.
The main temple, New Vrindaban’s central shrine of worship, is open to visitors as well. Giant temple doors lead to an interior lined with 24 pillars topped with sculpted lions. Temple walls are hung with oversized works of art. Other must-sees include the golden altar, a hand-carved teakwood festival chariot and an opulent ceremonial gold swing. See if you can spot the parrots hidden in the stained glass atrium ceiling.
Dairy Farm & Restaurant
Tour the Goshalla – a working dairy farm with a unique twist: older cows that no longer produce milk are retired on the farm to live out their days in comfort. Vegetables, fruits and flowers grown in the New Vrindaban Gardens are used for the deity kitchen and prasadam (food for guests and residents) and at Govinda’s Restaurant, which offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan meals.
You can stay right in this stunning complex, and buses and tour groups are welcome. Take a guided tour of the palace, or explore the grounds on your own.
Have you been to the Palace of Gold?
This post was last updated on October 19, 2017