If you grew up in the Ohio Valley you’ve probably heard of the Palace of Gold, but have you ever visited it? New Vrindaban is filled with extraordinary temples, gardens, and food.
The palace was built in 1973 by devotees of Srila Prabhupada. It was a place meant for Prabhupada to enjoy the clean country air and write his books. Throughout the palace, you’ll find marble floors, walls, and pillars inlaid with semi-precious stones and pure gold, and over 1,500 pieces of handcrafted stained glass.
Exploring New Vrindaban
While the drive out to New Vrindaban is a bit long and windy, it’s well worth the trip! There is so much to explore once you arrive. The Radha Krishna Temple is the focal point for most visitors and is highly ornate. But you can also experience scenic hikes, a self-guided peacock walk, visit cows in the sanctuary, organic gardens, rose gardens, and the yoga shala. There is also a fantastic place to eat in New Vrindaban, Govinda’s Vegetarian Restaurant, which uses the freshest produce during each season.
If want to get active, there are five trails around the temple to enjoy or the opportunity to take a guided foraging walk. You’ll learn from the guide how to pick your own wild salad and to identify and collect medicinal plants. You can also stroll through the peacock sanctuary where you’ll find information about the beautiful exotic birds, and maybe see the all-white peacock that resides in the sanctuary.
The organic gardens of New Vrindaban focus on food security for their rural area as an example of sustainability. There is a community garden for residents and many keep their own gardens to work toward sustainable organic agriculture. Their growing period is all-year-around thanks to two grow tunnels for vegetables despite frigid winters here in West Virginia.
Alongside the Palace of Gold, you’ll find the award-winning rose garden that contains over 300 rose bushes and 150 different varieties of roses. To see the blooms there are three prime times to visit: the first bloom starts in early June until mid-July, the second bloom is from late July to early August and the third bloom takes place in late September. You can enjoy Sunday brunch in the rose garden through the blooming season (June through September). To reserve your spot in the rose garden you can click here.
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Popular Krishna Festivals
Festivals are also a large part of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). You have probably heard of the Festival of Colors that is hosted at the Palace of Gold annually each fall. The festival is full of music, food, dancing, and of course, color throwing. This year the festival will be held on September 17 from noon – 6 p.m. at New Vrindaban.
“Almost every weekend during the summer we have an event in the city of Wheeling, and the Festival of India is one of the neatest ones. It brings a whole lot of folks down to Wheeling for those who don’t get a chance to see the city. It’s great for the people who live here too; it’s something different, and I’m really thrilled to have them,” says Glenn Elliot, the Mayor of Wheeling.
If you don’t want to wait until September to experience Hare Krishna traditions, you can attend Ratha Yatra Festival of India this Saturday at Heritage Port in Downtown Wheeling from 2 – 8 p.m. This festival is a great opportunity to learn more about other cultures and experience their food, music, and religious practices. The theme of this year’s event is “Culturally Many, Spiritually One,” according to Jaya Krsna Dasa.
“Our aim is to unite people from diverse backgrounds and cultures to share the joy of spiritual brotherhood as children of God. The festival also centers around community building and social cohesion,” says Dasa. “Please bring your family along for a day of fun, laughter, and spiritual upliftment.”
The festival will include food, vendors, activities for children, and more. Treat yourself to an array of delectable eats from Govinda’s Restaurant – they’ll be offering traditional Indian cuisine as well as some select Western favorites. Attendees can also enjoy an afternoon full of live entertainment featuring local bands, plus a fusion of poetry, dance and drama. On the lawn at Heritage Port, there will be yoga, meditation, Q&A sessions, and a multicultural storytelling speaker session.
The most show-stopping part of the celebration will take place at 5 p.m. with the chariot parade through Downtown Wheeling. The parade will begin at Wesbanco arena and features a blend of song and dance that’s sure to set your feet in motion!
The Ratha Yatra Festival of India is a great opportunity for the community to come together and experience a cultural celebration that is unique to our area. Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 16 for an experience that you won’t want to miss. You can get all of the details about this year’s festival by visiting newvrindaban.com.
If you can’t make it to the festival, planning a trip to New Vrindaban is a great way to spend a summer afternoon! You can start planning your visit here.
• Miranda Tharp grew up in Moundsville, WV, and has lived in Wheeling since attending college at West Liberty University. She graduated from college in 2016 and holds a Digital Media Design degree with a minor in Photography. She works full-time at Highmark as a production artist and does side work as a photographer. In her free time, she loves to rollerskate, tend to her plants, and hang out with her dog momo.