For a little town that’s literally carved in stone, Mamallapuram’s name has seen many changes. In the early days it was called ‘Mallal’, meaning prosperity in ancient Tamil. So Ma-malla-puram would have meant ‘big prosperous town’. In time, the name changed to ‘TirukadalMallai’ or ‘prosperous town by the sea’. As a chief port of the Pallavas it was certainly prosperous. By the 16th CE Mamallapuram became Mahabalipuram. Today, the town is officially Mamallapuram again.