are treated to an informal lecture on the practicality of Vastu principles. A walk around the
estate brings to life the assets of its fields and
its mandala plan, and the natural logic of its
structures designed by Kollam-based architect
Niranjan Das Sharma.
For example, “because door openings are like
funnels, they are centered on the building facade
and have double doors that open inside to allow
energy to flow in evenly,” Dietl says. Cross-ven-tilation is a given, thanks to window placements.
Despite the impressive scale of Maitreyi’s
largest so-called “earth-energy” buildings, which
deliberately have no air-conditioning, Dietl
says they are economical; their showy carved
Rajasthan sandstone columns seem lavish but
actually cost a lot less than the expensive hardwood used in some areas to weather a South
Indian monsoon. The functional, comfortable
interiors are decorated with elegant locally
handmade furnishings. Currently, Dietl,
inspired by Poddar, is also experimenting with
low-cost geodesic-style domes composed of
ultrathin shells of brick that will someday serve
as additional Ayurveda treatment rooms.
Speaking of Ayurveda, it “was forgotten even
in South India before Maharishi popularized it
in the 1980s,” Dietl says. “He was interested in
bringing ancient ways back and in creating a
Nowadays, most spa-goers around the
globe know about Ayurveda, even though
traditionally it was more than a spa treatment.
“Shirodhara (dripping oils or milk onto the
forehead) is powerful and it can do harm if
wrongly administered,” Dietl cautions.
Accordingly, Maitreyi also has a resident
Ayurveda expert, the young Dr. Abilash Anand,
who is in his early 30s. He was guided by one
of the Ashta Vaidya families of Trichur, Kerala, who are among the last hereditary South
Indian vaidyas or doctors and custodians of
ancient herbal secrets. He and his wife, Dha-
A weaver at Appachi
Eco-Logic Cotton mills.