Prabhupada’s Palace at New Vrindaban, West Virginia – Srila Prabhupada’s preeminent smriti samadhi, or memorial shrine, within the West – is getting a model new roof and exquisite new domes as a part of its ongoing restoration.
Devotees started constructing the Palace themselves again in 1973 as a residence for Srila Prabhupada, when he expressed a want to retire to New Vrindaban and translate his books. Young, inexperienced, and unpaid, they skilled themselves in building and artisanal expertise. Although orignally deliberate as a easy home, their love for his or her guru noticed the constructing change into increasingly more elaborate. And after Prabhupada left this world in 1977, the Palace turned a smriti samadhi, or memorial shrine, to ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya, and a significant attraction for vacationers and pilgrims.
Over the years, nevertheless, the Palace, constructed with out skilled expertise, started to decay. Large components of the concrete domes, outer wall, balustrade railing, and steps crumbled away, sections of wrought iron rusted irreparably, and the roof sustained leaks.
In 2009, a Palace Restoration Committee was established. Deciding to patch up the roof till they had been able to embark on a full repair, the Committee started with extra seen, smaller initiatives that might enable devotees and guests to see the progress.
The Palace’s superbly restored entrance higher steps
Starting in 2014, devotees corresponding to Palace Restoration Manager Gopisa Das, his son Nityananda, authentic builders Soma Das and Tejomaya Das, Tejo’s son Gopala, and Palace Manager Tripad Vibhuti Das made many renovations. They put in a extra environment friendly drainage system to cease water harm; restored the entrance steps with repurposed rose-colored granite from the unique steps, sturdy thick black granite treads, and ornate wrought-iron railings; utterly restored the outer wall and gave it new capstones and ornate new window grills and frames; renovated Prabhupada’s kitchen; upgraded the Palace’s plumbing; restored chattras and ornamental castings, and glued leaks.
Finally they had been prepared for the most important job. Beginning in October 2019, the New Vrindaban building crew, which consists of each devotee and out of doors staff, stripped your entire Palace roof down. The higher parts of the domes had been eliminated to accommodate the brand new domes, and a short lived roof was put in by an expert building firm.
“As we stripped all the things off, we eliminated deteriorated supplies corresponding to rafters, and new reinforcement was put in,” Gopisa Das says. “Many corporations got here to the pre-bid assembly with hopes of securing the contract, however once they noticed the breathtaking inside, they declined to bid, fearing they could harm the irreplaceable work.”
The stripped most important and middle domes, with scaffolding
One native firm, Okay&Okay Builders, owned and operated by George Schuster and recognized for his or her impeccable work and high-end properties, was as much as the problem.
Depending on the climate, a everlasting 30-year roof can be put in this month or early subsequent yr. “It’s the longest guarantee that we will get within the business,” Gopisa says. “We’re doing all the things at the best possible high quality with the most effective supplies we will get. We’re not reducing any corners. We wish to be certain that we’re doing this in such a means that it’s going to final.”
Meanwhile, Tejomaya and Gopala have run a fuel line as much as the roof, and a full HVAC system can be put in in December too, in order that Srila Prabhupada and his company could have full heating and cooling – beforehand, solely the temple room and Prabhupada’s altar space was heated.
Crane about to carry the primary HVAC unit onto the roof
Then there are the model new domes. 3D laser modeling of the roof has already been finished to make sure that the domes will correctly match; and the metal that may help the domes has been set. Next, all three authentic domes can be insulated to attenuate condensation and hold temperatures underneath them appropriate in the course of the summer time and winter months.
“We’re actually going all out,” says Gopisa. “The fiberglass shells themselves are already absolutely sealed, so water doesn’t get by means of them. But we wish to make completely positive we’ve no leaking points. So we’re absolutely sealing the domes beneath after which placing the brand new fiberglass shells over them, in order that they are going to be utterly waterproof.”
The new domes are already pre-assembled, and can be put in within the Spring. Larger and that includes a extra curved form, they are going to be harking back to the domes over Krishna Balaram Mandir, as New Vrindaban’s homage to the unique Vrindavana. As Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter dated 3/17/1968, “You have New York, New England, and so many ‘New’ duplicates of European nations within the USA, why not import New Vrindaban in your nation?”
Stripped entrance dome with scaffolding
“We spent a yr engaged on the design of the brand new domes,” says Gopisa, explaining that they may characteristic the identical lovely, ornate golden scrollwork designs and tilaks because the outdated domes; however the place the outdated designs had been flat and painted on, the brand new scrollwork and tilaks can be three dimensional. In addition, the place the outdated gold coating was fading and needed to consistently be recoated, the brand new domes will characteristic a long-lasting automotive paint end. And they are going to be illuminated with spotlights that may come on at night time.
Along with the domes, the concrete balustrade across the Palace can be changed, with lovely new lighting and LED lights. There will even be LED lighting on the Palace’s stained glass home windows, setting the stained glass in the principle temple space aglow at night time.
Long-term future plans embrace constructing a brand new Palace entryway with bogs, a present store and a snack space; in addition to an expanded parking zone. Eventually, the rear of the Palace will even be absolutely rebuilt.
Setting the primary body on the principle dome
“Our plan is to have an audio visible presentation space behind the Palace, the place company will be capable to are available in and start their tour,” says Gopisa. “We wish to have a 20-minute video of Srila Prabhupada’s life and the way the Palace was constructed for him, and a museum with artifacts associated to Prabhupada. The guests would then go from there, by means of Prabhupada’s award-winning rose backyard, and upstairs by means of the Palace itself, together with the temple room, Prabhupada’s examine and his bed room.”
Already, Prabhupada’s Palace has had a brand new stage of status and nationwide significance because it was acknowledged in 2019 as a Historical Building, and listed on the National Register by the West Virginia State Historic Preservation, the Department of the Interior, and the National Park Service.
In ISKCON, the Palace holds a singular place, as it’s the first Samadhi ever constructed for Srila Prabhupada; the one Samadhi for Srila Prabhupada within the West; and the one Samadhi constructed completely by Prabhupada’s disciples as devotional service to him. When absolutely restored, there actually can be nowhere prefer it on the earth.
Chattra being restored by Tripad Vibhuti Das
Currently, 30,000 to 40,000 folks go to Prabhupada’s Palace yearly. But Gopisa hopes that quantity will triple as soon as the Palace is absolutely renovated. And if the response throughout the devotee neighborhood is any indication of the general public’s response, his hopes are more likely to be realized.
“I used to be slightly not sure how the devotees would react once they noticed the brand new domes able to go up,” Gopisa says. “But their response to this point has been actually great, with senior devotees coming as much as me and telling me, ‘Wow, they’re wonderful!’ Devotees have actually appreciated seeing all of the renovations for Prabhupada’s Palace. They’ve been wanted for therefore lengthy, that there are lots of joyous hearts right here in New Vrindaban seeing this work being finished.”
Jaya Krsna Das, ISKCON New Vrindaban temple president, provides: “Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, a 100 per cent volunteer effort from younger girls and boys with completely no expertise in molding, sculpting, stained glass, etching, carving, and so on, was and is a labor of affection. I’m honored to be a part of the workforce that does no matter is important and wanted to revive and protect this constructing, which isn’t only a constructing, however the final testomony of affection from a scholar to a trainer.”