Many Biblical scholars believe that "Babylon" is a metaphor for the pagan Roman Empire at the time it persecuted Christians, before the Edict of Milan in 313: perhaps specifically referencing some aspect of Rome's rule (brutality, greed, paganism).
…the symbolism of the whore of Babylon refers not to an invading infidel of foreign power, but to an apostate false queen, a former "bride" who has been unfaithful and who, even though she has been divorced and cast out because of unfaithfulness, continues to falsely claim to be the "queen" of the spiritual realm. This symbolism did not fit the case of Rome at the time. Proponents of this view suggest that the "seven mountains" in Rev 17:9 are the seven hills on which Jerusalem stands and the "fall of Babylon" in Rev 18 is the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Di voi pastor s'accorse il Vangelista,
quando colei che siede sopra l'acque
puttaneggiar coi regi a lui fu vista…
(Shepherds like you the Evangelist had in mind when he saw the one that sits upon the waters committing fornication with the kings.)
Historicist interpreters commonly used the phrase "Whore of Babylon" to refer to the Roman Catholic Church.
On a final note, the city this takes place is the same as the one from Mahabodhi, only earlier on the timeline.