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New Vrindaban Community, West Virginia

Peaceful setting of West Virginia's New Vrindaban Community
Peaceful setting of West Virginia's New Vrindaban Community














You might not expect a Hare Krishna temple in the hills of West Virginia, but the New Vrindaban community has been an active spiritual retreat since 1968.

I recently took a road trip with my friend Jen Resnick to this peculiar intentional community. Known for its beautiful vistas and "cow sanctuary," Vrindaban is also famous for its "Palace of Gold" – a slice of India in a region known for agriculture and heavy industry.

The people of the Panhandle are often skeptical about the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. At best, the local Hare Krishnas are perceived as weird and entrepreneurial, having purchased a massive chunk of wooded real estate. At worst, people view them as cultists. Indeed, the place can be unnerving: There are frequent power outages, weak cell-phone reception, and devotees talk about their yoga discipline with wild enthusiasm.

But Jen and I felt very comfortable in the odd little cultural island – we were treated to a buffet of vegetarian dishes, and we ate with our hands alongside the devotees. They came from all over the world, and they chatted openly about their experience at New Vrindaban.

We freely explored the Palace of Gold, a breathtaking domicile that was built, astonishingly, by an army of unskilled volunteers. Not once were we asked for money or favors.

We even attended a devotional ceremony, which featured our guide and several priests clanging cymbals and chanting "Hare Krishna" as lamps were lit and water was blessed. I don't expect to ever really open my eyes to Krishna Consciousness, but I was happy to attend.

And it's strange to drive into a rugged town like Wheeling, its skyline filled with smokestacks and rusty billboards, when you've spent an afternoon with the swamis.

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Peaceful setting of West Virginia's New Vrindaban Community
Peaceful setting of West Virginia's New Vrindaban Community














You might not expect a Hare Krishna temple in the hills of West Virginia, but the New Vrindaban community has been an active spiritual retreat since 1968.

I recently took a road trip with my friend Jen Resnick to this peculiar intentional community. Known for its beautiful vistas and "cow sanctuary," Vrindaban is also famous for its "Palace of Gold" – a slice of India in a region known for agriculture and heavy industry.

The people of the Panhandle are often skeptical about the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. At best, the local Hare Krishnas are perceived as weird and entrepreneurial, having purchased a massive chunk of wooded real estate. At worst, people view them as cultists. Indeed, the place can be unnerving: There are frequent power outages, weak cell-phone reception, and devotees talk about their yoga discipline with wild enthusiasm.

But Jen and I felt very comfortable in the odd little cultural island – we were treated to a buffet of vegetarian dishes, and we ate with our hands alongside the devotees. They came from all over the world, and they chatted openly about their experience at New Vrindaban.

We freely explored the Palace of Gold, a breathtaking domicile that was built, astonishingly, by an army of unskilled volunteers. Not once were we asked for money or favors.

We even attended a devotional ceremony, which featured our guide and several priests clanging cymbals and chanting "Hare Krishna" as lamps were lit and water was blessed. I don't expect to ever really open my eyes to Krishna Consciousness, but I was happy to attend.

And it's strange to drive into a rugged town like Wheeling, its skyline filled with smokestacks and rusty billboards, when you've spent an afternoon with the swamis.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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