We drove along the twisting and bumpy lane out of the hotel past farmers working in the rice fields, and after about ten minutes entered a village lined with lots of small hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies catering to budget travelers. Unlike at our hotel, Internet services were widely available, and a large variety of foreign cuisines were on offer. Must be a great place to hang out for a few days, I thought to myself, if only I was twenty again. We came to a stop by a restaurant at what was literally the end of the road, and after stepping out of the car got our first view of the Virupaksha Temple and the surrounding village of Hampi standing across the other side of the Tungabhadra River. This was an absolutely glorious sight, and the clichés started overloading my mind as I tried to find the right words to describe it.
After making our way down the river bank we caught a small, rickety ferry loaded with tourists, villagers, and even motorcycles, across the river to Hampi, and further drank in the scene as we chugged along the water.
Children were playing in the river, while their mothers sat watching them as they were doing the morning clothes wash. Other people were sat on the huge steps of the ghats chatting or simply enjoying the cool air of the morning and the beautiful countryside around them.
After reaching the river bank, we climbed up the steep ghats past some old temple buildings and headed into the village proper, where we again came across a small colony of guest houses, cybercafés, and shops as well as a small bustling market offering all sorts of tourist paraphernalia.
Very soon we were at the entrance of the Virupaksha Temple; after this pleasant warm up, the truly serious work of the day was now starting.