Darbhanga literally means a gateway to Banga or Bengal. So, if you are traveling east, this is where the ancient Bengal started. This region was also known as Tirhut, besides the more popular name – Mithila.
Darbhanga is the main city in Mithila region of Bihar. Thanks to its royal patronage, it was one of the earliest cities to have its own airport, way back in 1938 CE. Thankfully, it has been revived and you can fly directly to Darbhanga from all major cities in India.
Its railway connectivity also dates to late 19th CE – since the early days of Indian Railways. It has three railway stations in close vicinity, one for British officers at Lahariya Sarai, Darbhanga station for common people and a special line that connected to one of the palaces for the king.
Mithila has been on my wish list for a long time. In fact, twice I planned a trip and had to cancel it last minute. Finally, this was the time to visit it.
History of Darbhanga
Darbhanga is probably one of the oldest cities in India.
In the recent past, it was ruled by the Khandwala dynasty, popularly known as Raj Darbhanga. They came here from Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh towards the end of 16th CE & ruled for almost 400 years.
Technically, they were Maithili Brahmin Zamindars who controlled large sections of land. They were never given the status of princely state though their dominance was larger than many who had that status. Did it mean they did not give a tribute to the British or Mughals and were independent? Probably yes.
It is their footprints that you see everywhere in the city. Most of their palaces and royal abodes have been converted into colleges and universities. Darbhanga is home to two universities – Lalit Narayan Mithila University and Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University.
Ponds of Darbhanga
Mithila as a region is known for ponds. So, no wonder that Darbhanga is also dominated by many ponds.
Three large ponds next to each other, stand out on the city map.
Apart from these wherever you go, you will see a big or small pond. I found them close to temples, as part of palaces and forts and just about anywhere.
We also found people fishing in most of these ponds. Yes, fish is a favorite food here. Makhana plants are also grown in these shallow ponds but to see that you must visit at the right time of the year.