Now called “Krishna’s Butter Ball”, the rock that balances precariously on a hill in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu is actually called “Vaani Irai Kal” by the locals; translated, it means “Sky gods’ stone”.
The rock is around 20 ft tall, 5 m wide and weighs about 250 tons; it is placed on a slope at a height of about 5 ft. There it has been standing (seemingly defying the laws of physics) for over 1200 years. There has been much academic debate about whether the stone is naturally formed or man-made, without any conclusive results.
In 1908, the governor of Madras, Arthur Lawley, feared that the stone was a hazard for nearby houses. He ordered that 7 elephants be employed to push the boulder down the hill. Despite much effort, the boulder didn’t budge an inch.
Perhaps Lawley did not know of a previous attempt by Pallava king Narasimhavarman (ruler from 630-668 AD) that also ended in failure. According to the local myth, the rock is a stolen piece of butter that was dropped by Krishna when he was a child. The name Krishna’s Butter Ball was reportedly given by a tour guide.