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Healthy wellness guide to Jaipur India
Photos: The Glassy

The Glassy’s Healthy Guide to Jaipur

The most calming sensory overload...ever?

by Rebecca Willa Davis | 01.18.2019

My desk should face east. Morning walks are very good for me. I’ll have three kids (two boys and one girl).

I’m sitting at a candlelit table with my hand outstretched, a magnifying glass poised above it, and K.K. Dandiya sitting across from me.

He’s been reading palms in the Rambagh Palace Hotel’s peacock-filled garden for more than 30 years—just as his father JML did starting back in the late ’70s—and is spitting out fact after fact about me that he’s picked up from just peering at my palm.

It’s 9 p.m. in Jaipur, and I’m in heaven. (Also, full: I just hoovered up the many components of the vegetarian thali I was served on a silver tray in the hotel’s regal dining room just a few steps away.)

Healthy wellness guide to Jaipur India
The flower market in Jaipur.

There’s a lot to say about Jaipur—or really, to behold: jasmine seemingly wafting everywhere, the pink-painted old city stretching for blocks, the cacophony of sounds clanging and buzzing just about anywhere you go—but what’s missed in the sensory overload is that this Rajasthani city delivers magical, mystical qualities that might have you redefining what a healthy trip looks like.

What’s missed in the sensory overload is that this Rajasthani city delivers magical, mystical qualities that might have you redefining what a healthy trip looks like.

Yes, you can join free yoga in the park—but you can also spend the day power-walking through the pink-hued streets on a guided tour, learning about gem polishers and neighborhood altars, before practicing stillness as Tikam Chand takes your portrait on his 160-year-old camera. Or you can spend the afternoon tucked away in an Ayurvedic spa, having warm oil slowly dripped on your forehead (AKA shirodhara) before digging into the type of delicious vegetarian curry that will have your mouth watering at the mere memory of it for months to come.

Healthy wellness guide to Jaipur India
Inside the pink-washed walls of City Palace.

Which isn’t to say that the city’s easy, if you’re looking to maintain your routine; on the contrary, there was no gym at my charming hotel, it was the longest I’ve probably ever gone without eating any raw veggies, and I was beholden to the spaces and places that are deemed foreigner-friendly. (And of course, no conversation about Jaipur can happen without recognizing the poverty that still thrives in this tourist city.)

But that might just be the point: We can travel to places that look like home, feel like home, smell like home, and taste like home…but we can also push ourselves outside of given comfort zones—and in the process re-imagine what being healthy might mean.

And if that includes having my palm read, or saying “yes” to a coconut treat made from a small, grimy food stall? That’s a form of well-being I’m willing to travel halfway around the world for.

Healthy wellness guide to Jaipur India
Your (blockprint-decorated) car awaits.

The Glassy Blackbook: Jaipur

Vibe: Transcendental sensory overload—with Ayurvedic everything, vegetarian curries, and sightseeing subbing in for your workouts.

Pack: Long, light, and loose layers—it’ll be hot, but you’ll definitely want to leave the skin-tight leggings and strappy tanks at home—as well as a fully stocked med kit with probiotics, charcoal pills, hand wipes, and in-case-of-emergencies antibiotics.

Drop-Ins: We found most spas to be pretty flexible with scheduling. You may, however, want to book your yoga lesson ahead of time—as it will likely be a private session at your hotel.

Walkability: Definitely within the old city—although be prepared to step aside as rickshaws, scooters, and even cows rush past you. Beyond that, your best bet for stretching your legs is getting a ride to one of the spectacular forts and palaces that dot the city, as they’ll provide plenty of room to wander.

Runnability: Head to Central Park—but if you really need to log your hours, expect to do quite a few loops around the green space.

Cycleability: Not recommended (in fact, even being a backseat driver in Jaipur can be mildly terrifying).

Clean eats: Even the most hardened traveler will tell you that things in India are just different—which means that you’ll likely go your whole trip without a salad or raw veggies. If you’re down with legumes and pulses, however, you’ll be good—with such a large Hindu population, it’s easy to find vegetarian spots, but there’s a good chance your daal was made with ghee (consider yourself warned, vegans).

Water situ: Definitely do not drink the tap water in Jaipur. In fact, you should also make sure you’ve got bottled water for washing your toothbrush.

Toiletry pick-up: Himalaya Ayurveda for the basics (from toothpaste to face wash), Kama Ayurveda if you don’t mind splurging—hey, it totally counts as a souvenir anyway.

Make your base: Tucked away behind a gate on a side street, the boutique guesthouse 47 Jobner Bagh is the dreamiest respite. (That is, if you can nab a room.) The food is sourced from the owner’s organic farm outside of the city, they’ll help you book a private yoga lesson in the verdant backyard, and can help you schedule the woo-wooiest of requests.

Top souvenirs: Ayurvedic everything—from saffron-scented serums to ashwagandha supplements–or a black-and-white portrait by Tikam Chand.

If you eat at one place: Cafe Palladio Jaipur’s candy colored decor and peacock-filled backyard is the stuff of Instagram dreams—and their veg-leaning menu delivers, too.

If you work out at one place: Skip the gym and instead head to Amer Fort, where the hike up to the entrance (with the sun likely beating down on you) is about the equivalent of 30 minutes on a step machine—only with this, you get spectacular views as your reward.

If you relax at one place: ITC Raiputana’s Kaya Kalp spa is the spot for indulgent, Ayurvedic treatments.

Check out the complete Glassy Guide to Jaipur.

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