for The Washington Post on Jan. 14, 2013
The sign announced that the Palace of Gold was ahead, but somewhere along the way, pulling the steering wheel back and forth across the tight West Virginia turns, a visitor might begin to think it was wrong. That the promised land can’t be reached. Instead he’ll spend eternity driving by one-story homes that double as beauty parlors, and hillside cemeteries dotted with bright silk flowers that never lose their bloom.
Then at the top of the mountain — his hands cramped and heart racing from another near-miss with a deer — it unfolds. The palace is massive and ornate, with gilded spires cutting into the sky. Instantly, it’s evident why this place, about 15 miles southeast of Wheeling, was called America’s Taj Mahal.
“Welcome to Heaven,” a New York Times story proclaimed of New Vrindaban, once the nation’s largest Hare Krishna community. The palace opened its doors to great celebration in 1979 and became one of West Virginia’s biggest tourist attractions. Newspapers, magazines and television raved about the handiwork of the devotees who built the magnificent structure in honor of their guru.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/can-hare-krishnas-at-palace-of-gold-in-wva-rebuild-its-tarnished-community/2013/01/04/38dbf6a8-ebc8-11e1-a80b-9f898562d010_story.html