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 huge 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 try 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.
Visit India with Atlas Obscura Trips
Northern India’s Colorful Cities, Villages, and Celebrations
Visit towering forts and palaces, explore local villages, experience Diwali with an Indian family, wander centuries-old ruins, learn to cook in a family home, and witness the sunrise over the Taj Mahal and the River Ganges on this immersive tour of Delhi, Rajasthan, and Varanasi.