Spring Mill State Park in Indiana

Spring Mill State Park in Indiana
Spring Mill State Park in Indiana

Friday, July 10, 2015

Prabhupada's Palace of Gold near Moundsville West Virginia

If you check any roadside attraction website, book, or other source, you will see that Prabhupada's Palace of Gold shows up on all of them.

It is a bit of an oddity, in MANY ways.

The Palace itself boasts that CNN named it one of eight religious wonders of the US to see.  Roadsideamerica.com rates it a five out of five- giving it a "The Best" rating (a pretty rare honor, actually).

Not as impressive, tripadvisor currently ranks this as #5 of 6 attractions in Moundsville.

Opinions vary greatly on this attraction.

I did learn that it was built in the 70s, pretty much as a palace for Prabhupada, who is credited for starting the Hare Krishna movement in the United States.  The faithful learned how to build as they were building.  I thought the palace looked amazing, but one practitioner we talked to pointed out that LOTS of renovations are being done right now..... because of the unskilled labor used in the 70s.

Before our visit, I did do some searching online about the Palace.  It is impossible to mention this place without acknowledging a ton of controversy surrounding it.  I won't go in to that here, but a basic search reveals a lot of info...

BUT... on to our experience.

The roads leading here are curvy and hilly!  Watch out!

We parked in a small parking area, and walked right to the Palace.  We were told of the amazing rose garden, and it was just that.  The garden, the Palace, and the entire surrounding area is exceptionally photogenic.  We explored for some time, seeing no one else as we walked.  It was very peaceful.... though dark clouds appeared and buckets of rain suddenly came down.  We took this as a good sign to go inside.

We walked into the Palace and were welcomed by a very sweet lady.  We paid for our tickets and our tour began.

Shoes and photos are not allowed inside.  I personally enjoyed casually walking around barefoot.

Our guide talked openly about the religion, the Palace of Gold, and the community. 

She explained how the Palace was originally built for Prabhupada, but he passed away before it was built.  He did visit the local community a few times though.  He is considered very important in this religion.

We did walk around the grounds some after our visit to the Palace.  We did talk to some of the locals.  I understand that this is a religious community and all, but the few we talked to seemed pleasant, but generally confused.  We were hoping to visit the gift shop, but one was closed.  Another one, inside of the temple, may or may not have been opened.  We talked to a few locals who weren't sure.  They were also not sure if a service was going on in the temple, or if we could go in.

We felt that the locals we asked were trying to be helpful, but they seemed a bit confused in general about our questions. 

The ratings systems I mentioned before....  I think they are all accurate in different ways.

There are so many cool things to see in the Moundsville/Wheeling area....  and if you are not interested in non-mainstream type religious groups..... this place might be one to pass on (the VERY cool Marx Museum, the West Virginia State Penitentiary, the Mound, and Independence Hall are all very family friendly sites close by.

However, if you are in this area and appreciate amazing religious monuments- this is a can't miss.


Jacob said...

I once dated a girl whose dad worked as a physician here (Although she was still not sure if her dad was actually a licensed doctor). I got the impression that lots of bad stuff went down here.

jimerado said...

Wow. I am going to have to hear that story sometime! I did read the book (after our visit) that came out in the early 90s about MANY very bad things that happened here. I hope they are getting past all of that.