It’s still a mystery to Caru Das Adhikary how he and his wife, Vaibhavi, managed to raise $1.2 million to build a Krishna temple in Utah Valley.
Yet 16 years later, Caru Das said the temple is a landmark “bucket list item” for many Utah Valley residents and is well attended, despite challenges to recruit returning devotees.
Caru Das and his wife initially became interested in creating a Hare Krishna presence in Utah Valley in 1981, when they put down a deposit on five acres of land, which included a ramshackle office building and small AM radio station.
It was Caru Das’ love for radio and public speaking that brought him to Utah Valley initially, he said.
Caru Das has been broadcasting Krishna Consciousness — a radio station featuring different music and Krishna devotionals — off and on since 1983 on 1480 AM.
In 1987, a small log building was built on their five acres to serve as a meeting place for Caru Das and the local Hare Krishna devotees in Utah Valley.
“We didn’t envision starting a temple,” Caru Das said. “It was all that we could imagine to pay this mortgage off the land and the radio station, but 10 years later the mortgage was paid off, and the adjacent 8.5 acres on which this temple stands became available.”
The construction of the temple began in 1998, and by 2001 the Hare Krishnas of Utah Valley had a new place to hold their meetings.
Today, the Krishna temple holds several popular festivals throughout the year as well as about 3,000 school field trips, according to Caru Das.
The grounds include an aviary, two gardens, a kitchen, a pond, a llama farm, a pavilion, some cows, a gift shop and a worship center.
Caru Das said he’s looking forward to the construction of a new temple in Salt Lake City, which was started almost a year ago in July.