Krishna's Butterball

Coordinates: 12°37′09″N 80°11′32″E / 12.6191°N 80.1923°E / 12.6191; 80.1923
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Krishna's Butterball
Coordinates12°37′09″N 80°11′32″E / 12.6191°N 80.1923°E / 12.6191; 80.1923
granite[citation needed]

Krishna's Butterball (also known as Vaan Irai Kal[1] and Krishna's Gigantic Butterball) is a gigantic balancing rock, granite-boulder resting on a short incline in the historical coastal resort town of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu state of India.[2]

Being part of the Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built during the seventh- and eighth-century CE as Hindu religious monuments by the Pallava dynasty, it is a popular tourist attraction locally.[3][4][5] It is listed as a protected national monument by the Archeological Survey of India.[6]


People visiting Krishna's Butterball

The original name, Vaan Irai Kal, according to the Atlas Obscura, translates from Tamil as "Stone of Sky God".[1] According to Hindu scriptures, Krishna often stole butter from his mother's butter handi; this may have led to the namesake of the boulder.[1] In 1969, a tour-guide is said to credit its present name, Krishna's Butterball, to Indira Gandhi who was on a tour of the city.[7]


The Pallava king Narasimhavarman (630–668 CE) also made a failed attempt to move the boulder.[1] The Indian Tamil king Raja Raja Chola (985 and 1014 CE) was inspired by the balance of this massive stone boulder and it led to the creation of never-falling mud dolls called Tanjavur Bommai, which having a half-spherical base tends to come back to its original position every time one tries to make it fall.[citation needed] In 1908, then-governor of the city Arthur Havelock made an attempt to use seven elephants to move the boulder from its position due to safety concerns but with no success.[citation needed] On 12 October 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping took a photo in front of Krishna's Butterball holding hands during their second "informal summit".[8]


Krishna's Butterball is located in the tourist town Mahabalipuram in Chengalpattu district in the state of Tamil Nadu in south India. It is easily accessible via the East Coast Road (ECR) at a distance of 55 km (34 mi) from Chennai Central railway station and 53 km (33 mi) from Chennai International Airport.[9][10] To the south, Pondicherry is 95 km (59 mi) distant.[11]

The boulder is approximately six metres (20 ft) high and five metres (16 ft) wide and weighs around 250 tonnes (250 long tons; 280 short tons).[12] It seems to float and barely stand on a slope on top of 1.2-meter (4 ft) high plinth which is a naturally eroded hill. It is said to have been at the same place for 1,200 years.[1][13] A part of the boulder on top back has broken away, making it look like a half-spherical rock from the back, while it appears round shaped from the other three sides.


In media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Krishna's Butter Ball". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  2. ^ Eric Grundhauser (4 August 2015). "The Delicately Balanced Beauty of Krishna's Butter Ball". Slate. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  3. ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 399. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
  4. ^ "Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram". Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  5. ^ Neha Vashishth (16 April 2016). "These Mysterious Places In India Totally Defy Gravity!". Dainik Bhaskar. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Alphabetical List of Monuments – Tamil Nadu". Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  7. ^ "Krishna's Butter Ball - Ancient Aliens In India? ~ Places on the planet you must see". Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  8. ^ Ramakrishnan, T. (11 October 2019). "Camaraderie marks start of Modi-Xi 'informal summit'". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Chennai Central Railway Station - Mahabalipuram route". OpenStreetMap. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  10. ^ "Chennai International Airport - Mahabalipuram route". OpenStreetMap. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  11. ^ "Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram route". OpenStreetMap. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  12. ^ Samonway Duttagupta (5 April 2016). "7 of the most incredible natural wonders in India". India Today. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  13. ^ Neha Borkar (7 February 2016). "This Is Krishna's Mysterious 'Butter Ball' Rock And It Has Never Rolled Downhill". IndiaTimes. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  14. ^