Possibly the strangest thing about Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold and City of God is that it’s located in West Virginia. It was built by the Hare Krishnas and is tucked away behind the kind of country roads that John Denver would be proud to sing about.
When I visited I have to admit I was in a bit of shock. The palace really is in the middle of nowhere. I drove down the windy roads that cut through the forest and passed several homes with multiple vehicles in various states of disrepair along the way. Then, at the end of the road, is the entrance, a wall with another world hidden behind it.
Aside from the sheer wonder of finding such a gem in the forests of America’s second most ridiculed state (you know where you stand New Jersey, no amount of incest jokes can change that) you also feel a sense serenity. The palace is nestled in the middle of nowhere with stunning West Virginia wilderness all around. The palace itself is juxtaposed against nature, covered in gold and scrolling designs.
There’s no end to the things you have to look at. The thing that really struck me were the two huge green lions at that guard the final stairway to the entrance. Just looking at them you can feel how heavy they are. I knew I wanted to make the lions prominent when I was working on the sketches for the travel poster. They’re stylistically wonderful!
I also wanted to include a human touch. I went to visit during their Labor Day festival and the place was overrun with people. The palace was built in the 60’s and there’s a generous mix of hippies and people of Indian decent. I wanted to include a woman who could warm up the picture and hold her own against the ferocious lions. She’s extra shiny with her golden skin and saree.
Purchase a travel poster print over at Society6.
Sometimes the postcard turns out better than the travel poster. I know it ended up being crazy busy, but I really love how almost every inch is covered in swirls and peacocks. There are also these brilliant gazebos on the front two corners of the palace porch(?) where you can sit and take in palace or forest around you. For the postcard I wanted it to be more about the palace so I expanded on the elements I used in the travel poster and pulled back to emphesize the architecture. It’s the kind of chaotic overload that covers the page.
Purchase a postcard print over at Society6.