Krishna's Butterball

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A child sitting under Krishna's Butterball in Mamallapuram
Krishna's Butterball, side profile viewed from west to east.

Krishna's Butterball (also known as Vaan Irai Kal[1] and Krishna's Gigantic Butterball) is a gigantic 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.[3][4][5] It is listed as a protected national monument by the Archeological Survey of India.[6]


The original name, Vaan Irai Kal, according to the Atlas Obscura, translates from Tamil as "Stone of Sky God".[1] According to Hindu scriptures, lord 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]


Butter well, 40 metres (130 ft) north of Krishna's Butterball

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]


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).[9] 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 and is said to have been at the same place for 1,200 years.[1][10] A part of the boulder on top back has eroded away, making it look like a half-spherical rock from the back, while it appears round shaped from other three sides.


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!". dailybhaskar. 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". 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. ^ Samonway Duttagupta (5 April 2016). "7 of the most incredible natural wonders in India". India Today. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  10. ^ Neha Borkar (7 February 2016). "This Is Krishna's Mysterious 'Butter Ball' Rock And It Has Never Rolled Downhill". IndiaTimes. Retrieved 29 September 2016.

Coordinates: 12°37′09″N 80°11′32″E / 12.6191°N 80.1923°E / 12.6191; 80.1923