Home Awesome & Weird Physics-Defying 250-Ton Krishna Butter Ball

Physics-Defying 250-Ton Krishna Butter Ball

by Sankalan Baidya
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Anything on earth that defies the laws of science, in particular physics, we tend get attracted to the same. There are many such things in this world and India is not a country which has nothing to offer that defies every possible explanation modern science has to provide. The Krishna Butter Ball is a classic example of such physics-defying object found in India.

Where is the Krishna Butter Ball located?

In southern India there is a state called Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu is a town which is known as Kancheepuram. In Kancheepuram is a place called Mahabalipuram. The Krishna Butter Ball is located there and is a major tourist attraction.

What really is the Krishna Butter Ball?

It is a boulder – a rock that weighs a whopping 250 tons! It is an ancient rock that has been sitting there for millennia. What makes this rock so interesting is that it is located right on a hill slope and touches only a very small surface area.

Any object of that size and weight placed in the exact same position, touching the exact same surface area will invariably roll down the hill. That’s simple physics. Interestingly enough, this rock never rolls down. No one can even move the rock. That’s pretty unusual and defies the known laws of physics.

What is the history behind the Krishna Butter Ball?

The original name of this rock, as known to the Tamils is Vaan Irai Kal. When translated to English, this Tamil name says, ‘Stone of the Sky God’. According to local legends, the gods once decided to display their might and power to Mahabalipuram residents and that found that the best way to do so is to place the boulder in its current location. Ever since then, the mammoth rock has been sitting there, displaying the power of the gods. Modern folks however have replaced god with aliens and the rest of the story is that the aliens put the rock there. But why? Dudes and dudettes…come on! When was the last time you had an explanation for an alien activity?

Fine! But why the name Krishna Butter Ball?

The name Krishna Butter Ball is the brain child of tourism and the actual culprits are the tour guides who possibly wanted to simplify things for the tourists and gave the name. They even cooked up a story which did involve one of the Hindu gods – Lord Krishna – an avatar of Lord Vishnu – one of the three Tridevs of Hindu Mythology.

Actually, the tour guides didn’t really cook up a story. They took inspiration from Hindu Mythology which speaks of Lord Krishna. When Krishna was a child, he had this habit of stealing Makkhan or Butter. He would steal butter from wherever he could, especially the butter that his mother would keep in a pot. He would take a handful of butter and run away to relish it. Now, the boulder at Mahabalipuram looks very much like a butter dollop and hence, the name was given as Krishna Butter Ball. Ever since then, this new name has been used and Vaan Irai Kal was replaced by the new name.

The anatomy of the Krishna Butter Ball

The boulder has been studied very carefully and the experts estimate that the weight of the rock is no less than 250 tons. That’s too heavy! Also, the rock has a diameter or around 16.4 feet or 5 meters and has a height of about 19.6 feet or 6 meters. That’s an incredibly big boulder.

As far as its location is concerned, slope of the hill where the boulder sits is at 45 degrees and incredibly, the surface area on which the boulder is in contact with the slope of the hill is way too small to support a big rounded boulder of that size. The boulder should, according to physics, roll down the hill and rest on a flat surface. Unfortunately, or possibly fortunately, that never happens. It just sits there.

Some people speculated that the rock was nothing but a part of natural formation and the shape of the rock was a result of natural corrosion by the elements. However, given the fact that one side of the rock is totally sheared off, the possibility of any natural force creating that boulder is easily blown away.

Did anyone attempt to move the Krishna Butter Ball?

Hell yes! The first attempt came in 7th century CE. The attempt was made by a Pallava King named Narasimhavarman. He did not have any foul intention. He only wanted to make sure that the divine rock is not destroyed by sculptors who were always on a look out for big rocks and the Krishna Butter Ball fit the bill nicely. Unfortunately, all the attempts made by the king went in vain and rock could not be moved.

The next major attempt came in 1908 by Arthur Lawley who was the Governor of Madras. His attempt was based on the premise that the rock was in a very precarious position and if it rolled down the hill, it would clearly destroy the town that was standing at the foot of the hill. It is said that the governor made use of 7 elephants to pull down the rock but unfortunately, the rock didn’t move even a millimeter from its place. So, the fear of the governor was actually baseless because the rock had been standing there for ages. It didn’t even move a bit, rolling down the hill was kind of impossible. For now, the town that stands at the bottom of the hill continues to stay safe because gods will not want to destroy innocent people out of no valid reason and if the rock was a work of aliens who wanted to kill people, they could have done so by other means.

Whoever placed the rock there clearly didn’t want any destruction and hence, the rock cannot be moved from its place even though it has a very weird placement.

Sources:

Borkar, N., 2016. This Is Krishna’s Mysterious ‘Butter Ball’ Rock And It Has Never Rolled Downhill. Available online.

journeymart.com, 2014. Krishna’s Butterball.Available online.

Kaushik, 2013. Krishna’s Butter Ball – A Balancing Rock at Mahabalipuram. Available online.

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