Kalachandji's Restaurant in Dallas, Texas, where I cooked and helped manage from 1982 through 1988, opened with a bang in 1982 and quickly rose in local recognition receiving glowing reviews year after year from the print media. The unique blend of gourmet vegetarian fare and its artistic presentation alongside the stunning ambience of the indoor and outdoor dining areas created a buzz that continues to this day. By 1987 it was nationally recognized as one of the Top 10 Vegetarian Restaurants in America by the Vegetarian Times magazine.
Kalachandji's is still one of the most popular restaurants in Dallas, and continues to receive great reviews year after year.
Below is a chronological photographic presentation of reviews up until 1988 along with photos of plates as they looked upon being brought out to diners, as well as a history of Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji.
Five hundred years ago in India, Kalachandji, literally translated as "the beautiful moon-faced one," was worshipped as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by thousands of devotees. Impeccable craftsmen constructed an elaborate temple for Him; famous artisans decorated it. Accompanied by drums, cymbals and tampouras, His followers filled the halls with melodious prayers throughout the day, and the air was sweet with myriad varieties of richly fragrant incense. Daily He was offered sumptuously prepared foods of all descriptions made from grains, milk products and fresh vegetables. Everyone, from the King to the street sweeper, visited Kalachandji, paying respects and obeisances. No one could imagine passing the day without having His audience.
From one generation to another the tradition continued, and then, suddenly, the Moguls invaded India. Fearing for Kalachandji`s safety, His devotees hid Him from the plunderers, and thus the opulence and worship which He had formerly enjoyed all but came to an end. With grief in their hearts, His followers prayed for the day when His true position could be established again.
Centuries later, the great devotee of Lord Krishna and founder of the Dallas Temple, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, discovered this Deity (through a dedicated disciple) in the shop of a Deity craftsman, standing unworshipped and neglected as a doorstop to one of his showrooms. He arranged to have Kalachandji brought to America where he had a large temple building in Dallas. And so it was that "the beautiful moon-faced one" found a home in a new land.
At the outset of 1972 Srila Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, instructed two of his lady disciples, Kausalya devi dasi and Srimati devi dasi to travel to Jaipur, India to secure marble deities for his Denver, Detroit, Montreal and Dallas temples.
Kausalya had been living in India for the last two years and Srimati, having just arrived in India, saw her as a perfect guide and companion. Arriving in Jaipur, while attempting to check into a hotel Srimati realized she had forgotten her passport in Delhi. The hotel receptionist made special note of this and agreed to let them stay. The next morning, after having attending Mangala-arti for Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, the famous Deities of Srila Rupa Goswami, Kausalya began singing bhajans for Their Lordships in the temple. At this time a large crowd gathered to see the American devotees, perhaps for many of them the first time they had ever seen foreigners worshipping Radha-Govinda. Kausalya was not only able to sing but ended up lecturing about Srila Prabhupada to her audience. They were also fortunate enough to meet one of the pujaris of Sri Sri Radha Govinda.
Later, returning to their hotel room, they were met by the police who were ready to arrest them, having been informed by the receptionist that Srimati had no passport. And rightly so, the Indian-Pakistan War had just begun with India siding with Russia and Pakistan siding with the U.S. So what right had an American to be in India without any travel documents?
Eventually, all this led to the ladies calling upon the pujari of Radha Govinda to vouch for them. The pujari, upon arriving on the scene, recalled their singing and preaching, and proclaimed that they were actual devotees. Not only did he vouch for them, but he ended up sponsoring them and inviting them to come and stay in his home with his wife and family. The police finally relented under the condition the devotee ladies would not leave Jaipur until Srimati’s passport was sent from Delhi and presented before them.
Through the pujari, Srila Rupa Goswami seems to have assisted Srila Prabhupada and Kalachandji. What seemed to have been a tragedy unfolded into a great opportunity as the pujari began introducing the ladies to many of the respected families of Jaipur and instructing them how to obtain the Deities they had been sent to look for. Mother Kausalya recalls: "I simply began telling everyone I met about Srila Prabhupada and chanted to Radha –Govinda. Gradually by Srila Prabhupada’s and Radha-Govinda’s mercy, people became so enthusiastic that recognized local industrialists, businessmen, and even the Maharani of Jaipur were inviting us for lunch to hear about Srila Prabhupada. Many of them became so interested to meet Srila Prabhupada that they sponsored Srila Prabhupada to come to Jaipur and organized a large pandal program in which Srila Prabhupada installed the Radha-Govinda Deities of New York City and awarded sannyasa to His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami.
It was during that time that Srimati found her way to some of the finest murtiwalas of Jaipur. Srimati recalls how pleased Srila Prabhupada was. She remembers: " I was walking from shop to shop, thinking what type of deity would be suitable for Dallas, Texas. Suddenly I saw this beautiful deity! He had a large round face and fine soft features. As soon as I saw Him, the first thing that crossed my mind was that this is the deity of Dallas!"
The Deity was holding the door of a showroom open, having been placed as a doorstop. The Deity looked ignored, completely unkempt, nothing like the Deities she had previously seen for sale. As she approached the man in charge of the shop, he explained that this particular Deity was not for sale. "This Deity is very old," said the man, and he tried to interest her in other newly carved Deities describing and pointing out the newest styles. Srimati simply became more determined and continued pursuing her original interest. Looking at the Deity again the man kept saying the Deity is very old, more that 500 years old, some type of museum piece. Srimati continued requesting the man to give her the Deity, explaining that the Deity would be sent to Dallas. Finally she began talking money. As the price became more lucrative, the man finally consented.
As there was no Deity of Srimati Radharani to match, Srimati started looking at other Deities and had the murtiwala carve a suitable one to complete the set. Previously, Srila Prabhupada had written Srimati directing her how to pack the deities she was shipping to guard against breakage.
It was Mother Lakshmimoni who received a telegram from Mithaheli devi dasi, explaining that the Deities must be waiting in New York. Anxiously, she and her husband Jagadisa prabhu called Mithaheli and located the Deities along with two other sets of Radha-Krishna deities which were meant for Detroit and Montreal. They dispatched the Deities to the respective temples.
After installing the Deities in Dallas, Srimati recalls how pleased Srila Prabhupada was. Prabhupada had even handwritten a document after the installation:
"Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji, The Deity of Dallas! A.C. Bhaktivedenta Swami