Krishna’s Butter Ball: The boulder might sound silly, but it has a mythological origin.

The Delicately Balanced Boulder Known as Krishna’s Butter Ball Is a Lovely Geological Oddity

The Delicately Balanced Boulder Known as Krishna’s Butter Ball Is a Lovely Geological Oddity

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Aug. 4 2015 1:29 PM

The Delicately Balanced Beauty of Krishna’s Butter Ball 

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Forever (hopefully) perched on a steep rock slope in the historic town of Mahabalipuram, India, the massive round boulder known as Krishna's Butter Ball refuses to give in to gravity or the shoves of tourists.

The giant boulder appears to be frozen in its roll down the hill it sits on, and no one is quite sure why. The boulder is likely a glacial erratic that got stranded in a serendipitous position on the hill, but local legend has another version of the story. According to Hindu mythology, when the great god Krishna was just a baby, he was fond of stealing butter. Following this tradition, the big orange stone has been likened to a giant dollop of purloined butter that the god dropped.


The actual name of the stone is Vaan Irai Kal, which translates to Sky God's Stone, and according to one source, the more playful name was given to the rock by a local tour guide. However it got its sort of silly name, it stuck.

Reinforcing the stone's strangely balanced position, the slippery stone slope is used by local children as a slide. Today Krishna's Butter Ball is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors to the site love to get behind the stone and try to push it down the hill. So far no human power has been able to budge the buttery boulder.

Best of all, sometimes the local goats climb on top of it. It's adorable.

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Eric Grundhauser is a head writer and editor at Atlas Obscura. He lives in Brooklyn with his comic book collection. Follow him on Twitter.