When I was a little girl, the school that I attended took a field trip to the Hare Krishna temple in Laguna Beach in Southern California. The day’s most striking impression was the lifelike bald figure on a dais, seated under a baldaquin, two streaks on his forehead over a tunic in shades of marigold.
We were there to learn a bit about Hinduism; we were studying the deities. The lesson ended with lunch at the vegetarian restaurant that served dal and halvah. It would stay in my mind. And when, decades later, I moved to Dallas, I was not surprised to find that the city’s most beloved vegetarian restaurant was the one ensconced in the tranquil courtyard of another Hare Krishna temple.
The devotees of what is officially known as the International Society of Krishna Consciousness who founded Dallas’s temple came in 1970, purchased an old church— Mount Auburn Christian Church—in East Dallas, and bought up houses around it. And this is no doubt how you know it: an amalgam of architecture, turrets and lotus petal-framed domes overlaid like piped icing on a squarish brick façade, like a frosted cupcake. In a neighborhood of crumbling houses on buckling foundations, Kalachandji’s temple is an island.
Something rather extraordinary happens there—something you’ll miss if you’re just there for tamarind tea. Once I realized it, I was drawn farther in. Which is how I found myself in the closet of a deity. And writing this feature, out this month in the magazine and online today. Jonathan Zizzo’s photography captured the Technicolor extravagance beautifully. Take a look.