New Vrindaban
New Vrindaban is a ISKCON ( Hare Krishna) intentional community located in Marshall County near Moundsville, West Virginia. It consists of 500 acres and several building complexes, including the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple (RVC Temple) and the Palace of Gold. New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 by Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Swami. New Vrindaban is named after the Indian city of Vrindavan. It was expelled from ISKCON in 1988, but was readmitted some years later.

History
The community was founded in 1968 by Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Swami, two early disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. New Vrindaban developed under the controversial guidance of Kirtanananda Swami (honored as "Srila Bhaktipada" after March 1979), and by the mid-1970s the live-in population had grown to over 100. New Vrindaban is strictly vegetarian and the community believes that meat consumption creates negative karma. Alcoholic beverages and illegal substances (such as drugs) are prohibited from the community for the same belief. According to ISKCON News, on 4 July 1983 Vedavyasa Priya Swami installed the statue of Sri Nathji at the RVC Temple. Conversely, according to Gargarishi Das, the deity was not installed by Vedavyasa Priya, but was installed instead by Kirtanananda Swami. In October, 1986, a census report showed 377 adults living at the community, but by 2006 the population was down to 100. After Kirtanananda Swami left New Vrindaban, and new leadership stablized, the community was readmitted to ISKCON.

Prabhupada's Palace of Gold
Originally intended in 1972 to be a residence for A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977), the Founder/Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) , the plans evolved after Prabhupada's death in November 1977 for an ornate palace of marble, gold and carved teakwood, which was dedicated as a memorial shrine on September 2, 1979. Kirtanananda Swami (the leader of the New Vrindaban Community) and Bhagavatananda das (the community's principal architect and sculptor) were the two primary forces behind its design and construction. It reportedly cost $600,000 in materials, and the labor was donated by the devotees. The unpaid workers were often untrained and learned on the job. Kirtanananda explained, "In the beginning, we didn't even know how to lay blocks. As our Krishna consciousness developed, our building skills developed, then our creativity developed, and the scope of the project developed." The Palace of Gold opened in 1979 to positive reviews. CBS PM Magazine reported, "the magnificence of the Palace of Gold would be hard to exaggerate." Life magazine called the Palace "a place where tourists can come and be amazed." The New York Times proclaimed "Welcome to Heaven." The Washington Post called the Palace "Almost Heaven." The Courier-Journal of Louisville stated, "It's hard to believe that Prabhupada's Palace is in West Virginia. In fact, it's hard to believe it's on this planet." Since the early 1990s, mismanagement and lack of sufficient financial resources has caused palace maintenance to be neglected; nevertheless, 50,000 tourists and Hindu pilgrims reportedly still visit each year.

Current activities
The community is overseen by a Board of Trustees of long-standing community members who oversee land and legal issues. Day-to-day management of the temple and lodge is overseen by a Management Team working with the different departments.

Picture gallery

References and footnotes
All information is sourced to the following article unless stated otherwise
  • Rochford, Burke E. Jr. and Kendra Bailey Almost Heaven: Leadership, Decline and the Transformation of New Vrindaban in Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions Vol. 9 nr. 3 February 2006
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