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Upon arriving in Mauritius in 1975 devotees were enchanted by the beautiful setting of the place - a green, subtropical, paradise island surrounded by the transparent waters of the Indian Ocean.
Committed lifemembers, led by Shri Gowtam Teelock, proposed several ways of how to go about it. Government, sugar estates, private landowners and any other possible sources were approached. City, village, countryside, east, west, south or north, never mind where, but everyone felt it was important for ISKCON to get some land to build a temple.
But the search proved unsuccessful. Although all were sympathetic to the idea, it seemed that no one trusted the young devotees sufficiently to donate a few acres of land. Then, in 1980, seeing the impossibility to get anything, Mr. Teelock took us to Bon Accueil, where his sugarcane estate was located. He showed us the land he had in mind.
The spot was absolutely beautiful, 100 meters off the main road to Central Flacq, looking down to the eastern seashore, completely peaceful, yet less then a 1/4 mile from the next village. A refreshing easterly breeze blew gently to give relief from the sun’s rays. We were completely enchanted by the natural beauty of the place and felt that this would be an ideal situation for an ashram. One part of the land was under sugar cane and the other was a vegetable plantation.
A narrow dirt road divided the property, which had an old, decrepit, rectangular stone building on it. As we found out many years later, the building used to house sugar cane labourers belonging to one of the sugar estates.
"I have decided to donate this plot of land to ISKCON”, Mr. Teelock said. “It is about 5 acres in all. Do you think you can do something with it?” We could hardly believe our ears. It was Lord Krishna’s mercy, that after so many endeavours, He would now let us get this ideal property. “Of course,” I replied, still under the shock of what had just happened. “We can make a beautiful farm here, with cows, orchards, vegetable plantations. People will come here just to see the beauty of the place. Thank you so much!”
“I donate it in the name of my father, Rameswar Teelock,” Mr. Teelock said. “In his memory you do something for the people here. Srila Prabhupada asked me to help you, and I promised him that I’ll do as much as I can.”
For us it was like a dream come true. The land was well situated, in an ideal farming zone, and was very valuable.
Soon after this meeting a committee was set up with interested lifemembers. Thus the planning began. Funds were raised to start the first basic construction, laying of water pipes and connecting electricity. It was now mid 1982. Two rooms were covered with iron sheets and the devotees started to live on the land in very simple conditions. In 1983 the first cow was donated.
As more devotees came to live there, construction was increased, funded by donations, sales of laddhus and vegetables.
In December 1984 one of the first biogas plants in Mauritius was inaugurated and thousands of people from all over came to visit the project. The name and fame of ISKCON VEDIC FARM spread quickly through the island. To see more of our cows and biogas plant, please go to ISKCON Vedic Farm – ISKCON Goshalla and Biogas Plant.
Preaching the message of Krishna consciousness went on in full force in the surrounding areas and people flocked to the Sunday love feasts in great numbers.
The temporary transfer of Sri Sri Radha Golokananda in 1987 inspired the residents with a great desire to also install large marble Deities. It would be natural to have Deities of Krishna and Balarama in such a rural community. Plans were drawn for a Brijabasi-style temple and construction started soon afterwards.
From Beau Bois to Vrindavan
In the early nineties, Krishna das Swami Maharaja visited the island and inspired everyone with the idea of calling the Beau Bois area Vrindavan. He vigorously preached in every town and village of the future glories of Vrindavan, Bon Accueil. Maharaja’s preaching was so effective that the District Council and Ministry of Local Government officially agreed to change the name of Beau Bois to Vrindavan. It was now up to the devotees to make the place really a replica of Vrindavan.
In 1991 the first large scale Krishna Janmastami was held. That festival proved to be a turning point and since then everything seemed to just increase. Construction of the new majestic temple started. Expert marble sculptors were brought from India to give the temple the traditional touch of Vrindavan.
Thus by the boundless mercy of Srila Prabhupada – in a place where there was only sugarcane - a sublime temple arose to declare the glories of Sri Vrindavan-dham, the eternal home of the two Divine Brothers, Krishna and Balarama.
Sriniketana Das ACBSP