Of the seven tiers of pātāla (patala; the netherworld), the first tier is known as atala. The Puranic texts describe the soil of atala as black. But Viṣṇupurāṇa (Vishnupurana) differs on this matter and describes the soil of atala as white, and the only tier of pātāla to have such soil.
This tier of atala boasted exquisite palaces of many august dānava (danava), daitya, rākṣasa (rakshasa) and nāga (naga), including that of Namuci (Namuchi), the famous daitya king. According to Devībhāgavatapurāṇa (Devibhagavatapurana), Balāsura (Balasura), the son of Maya, the great demon architect and engineer, lived in atala.