Mahabalipuram is also a subtle reference to show of strength when translated, although it literally means city of Mahabali who was a mighty demon king who was ultimately slayed by a dwarf avatar of Vishnu. However going by historical records and texts documented by travellers in their recounts, this place was a hub of trade and commerce attracting many foreign merchants and traders and hence the word mallal is derived from the Tamil word of the same name meaning prosperity.
Although there is no definitive evidence regarding the origin of these monumental structures, however they find mention in the traveller’s records of accounts of their travels. And since this place had a reputation of being a trade hub, a lot of travellers and sailors are said to have confirmed the presence of structures similar to 7 Pagoda that became famous by the same name in Marco Polo's travel accounts.
Although these records are disputed by historians, but the structures or monuments haven’t deteriorated over the period of time and they still stand resolute even today. They are a fusion of expression through the medium of rock cut art and sculpture and have many references to religion and life dominated by the Hindu pantheon and they can broadly be classified as Chariot shaped temples, cave temples, rock reliefs, structural temples and excavations.