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city, southern Tamil Nadu state, southeastern India. It lies along the Tambraparni River, slightly upstream from the city of Palayankottai (Palamcottah). Its name is derived from the Tamil words tiru ("holy"), nel ("paddy"), and veli ("fence"), referring to a legend that the god Siva (Shiva) protected a devotee's rice crop there. Tirunelveli was a commercial centre during the Pandya dynasty. With electricity supplied from the Papanasam Dam on the Tambraparni River, it has become an industrial city specializing in the manufacture of textiles, cigars, and jewelry, and it has motor workshops. It is the site of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (1990).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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