How It All Began...
by His Holiness Guru dasa Swami
I first learned of Srila Prabhupada's plan for a "heaven on earth" in Vrindavana, India in May of 1970. Vrindavana is the birthplace of Lord Krsna, which lies some ninety miles southeast of Delhi. I was in Delhi when Srila Prabhupada wrote me a letter explaining his plan. He asked me to investigate a report that the king of Bharatpur wanted to give us one of his many Vrindavana palaces. Of the many palaces the Maharaja of Bharatpur owned around Vrindavana, the Laksmirani Kunj palace was especially beautiful. In his letter, Srila Prabhupada said it would be excellent as an ISKCON center. So we looked into it.
By Krishna's arrangement, however, the Laksmirani Kunj palace was not to be our ISKCON, Vrindavana, center. At our first meeting and later on, the king made various offers, but it soon became clear to us that he was more interested in getting money than in giving charity.
When Srila Prabhupada found out that no palace was available, he reluctantly turned his attention to construction. Construction work is a big endeavor, particularly in India, but now it was our only recourse.