Tirunelveli, also known as Nellai and historically (during British rule) as Tinnevelly, is a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the administrative headquarters of the Tirunelveli District. Tirunelveli is located southwest of the state capital, Chennai and away from Thoothukudi.
The city is located on the west bank of the Thamirabarani River; its twin city, Palayamkottai, is on the east bank. Tirunelveli is believed to be an ancient settlement; it has been ruled at different times by the Early Pandyas, the Medieval and Later Cholas, the later Pandyas, the Ma'bar and Tirunelveli sultanates, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Madurai Nayaks, Chanda Sahib, the Carnatic kingdom and the British. The Polygar War, involving Palaiyakkarars led by Veerapandiya Kattabomman and forces of the British East India Company, was waged on the city's outskirts from 1797 to 1801. Tirunelveli has a number of historical monuments, the Nellaiappar Temple being the most prominent.
Industries in Tirunelveli include administrative services, agricultural trading, tourism, banking, agricultural machinery and educational services. The city is an educational hub of southern Tamil Nadu, with institutions such as Tirunelveli Medical College, the Veterinary College and Research Institution, Tirunelveli Law College and the Government College of Engineering. Tirunelveli is administered by a municipal corporation, established in 1994 by the Municipal Corporation Act. The city covers an area of , and had a population of 473,637 in 2011. Tirunelveli is well-connected by road and rail with the rest of Tamil Nadu.