Tirunelveli (tĭrōnĕlˈvĕlē) [key], town (1991 pop. 366,869), Tamil Nadu state, SE India. Now an agricultural trading center with motor workshops and manufactures in textiles, jewelry, and cigarettes, it was once an imperial city of the Chola kingdom (c.900–1200). St. Francis Xavier conducted missionary activity in the area (c.1545). It is also called Tinnevelly.