As the conductor shouted "Hampi Road", I hurriedly made my way to the doorstep. I stepped down in fear, with no soul at sight. The dark clouds, with no moon to show a way, and street lights barely lit.
I walked past the bus stop and spotted a shop opened at 4am in the morning. A group of 5-6 men with red eyes were sipping down the hot chai with bidis. Their skeptical looks of a girl at that hour of midnight, made me turn them down for asking instructions.
A little further onto the road, the scare was eventually getting into my nerves. I was cursing my heart for convincing me for this Solo Adventure Trip at an unknown place at an odd timing. No pre-booked accomodations, no route maps, no itinerary at all. All I had was the bus tickets and little courage, which slowly seemed to shatter.
As I began to lose hope of safely settling down in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, I found a person at a distance, sitting on a pavement. Amidst all the chaos that was unveiling within me, he seemed like an oasis in the desert. I reached out to him. Sensing the fear on my face, he said, "Madam, you are like my sister, feel safe."
I expressed my concern of finding a place to stay. He immediately dialled a number on his phone, asking the person to open the shutter, and accomodate me in his tiny hotel. After a brief time of 10 minutes, I could hear the shutter going up. I thanked this stranger brother for his timely help.
As the other person opened his gates for a guest, way early than the normal opening time, I thanked him. He showed me the room, I was not comfortable. It was very untidy, had a strange odour. He quickly cleaned it up, but the odour stayed.
I calmed myself down telling, to have atleast this roof was gifted than being stranded on the streets to unknown people and events. As I settled down under this new roof, the sun had risen. The town started coming to life, with people going about their chores, vehicles riding off on the mud roads, rising a dust trail.
As I was looking at the colourful map of Hampi drawn at the wall near the small reception desk, the host asked me how I was going to go around the little town. Seeing my clueless face, he gave me his friend's number who rides an auto. I politely accepted his help and thanked him yet again.
I dialled his auto friend, and he appeared at the hotel footsteps at 8am. I rode off in the auto, listening to the little stories he had to offer about his town. We first landed at the Virupaksha Temple. My auto friend told me about a spot behind the Garbhagudi, where one can find the inverted structure of the entrance. I roamed aimlessly, to find nothing. An elderly person, selling books, asked me what I was searching for. When I told him, he took me to the spot and explained the stories about the temple. He guided me through the entire temple, from the timeless paintings on the wall, to a small temple in the underground to stories of Ramayana.
Hampi was turning to be a heartwarming place for me, with strangers walking up to me and offering help.
As the sun started taking his fierceful form, my auto friend took me to various places around - The Elephant Stables, the Queen's Palace, the watch tower, the magnificent temples , explaining the significance. I wondered how I did not have to hire a guide and this man was all rolled into one.
As the sun started to set, he guided me up a hill to watch the pleasant sunset hearing the enchanting chants of Ramayana verses from the temple.
What started as a dreadful mid night, ended up as a cheerful evening. I had no expectations, when I landed here, but was carrying back good vibes of meeting stranger friends, who helped this Adventure Solo Traveller, giving me more courage to take on trips like these, trusting the goodness that still exists on this planet!