Mithila takes its name from Mithi, a famous king of ancient Videha as the region was then known. If one goes by the folklores doing the rounds in various places of Mithila discussed in this section, many episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata would appear to have unfolded in these parts.
Kapil Muni, the proponent of the Sandhya philosophy, too is held by traditions to be associated with Mithila.
The place is also said to have derived its name from ‘Dwar-Banga’ or gateway to Bengal.
In 1582, Trihut was annexed to the province of Bihar by Akbar and a Sarkar, i.e. Tirhut Sarkar was formed with its headquarter at Darbhanga.
The British initially made Darbhanga a division of Sarkar Tirhut and later created a separate district of Darbhanga in 1875. The subdivisions of this district were formed as early as Darbhanga Sadar in the year 1845, Madhubani in the year 1846 and Samastipur in the year 1872.
Darbhanga was a part of the Patna division till 1908, when a separate Tirhut division was created. Darbhanga was made the divisional headquarters in the year 1972 when all the three subdivisions were upgraded as independent districts.
Madhubani, meaning forest of honey, lies in the heart of Mithila. The wall paintings, a people’s art from ancient times, of the region are now legendary and famous across the world. But only a visit would tell the story of this fascinating art which depicts stories from the epics and makes home steads colourful.
Samastipur, apart from the monuments mentioned in these pages, stands tall as a hub of the Indian railways. Like other railway townships, Samastipur too has received a distinct socio-cultural stamp from the railways.
Many of Mithila’s monuments are discussed in the pages that follow. The Darbhanga Raj was instrumental in the erection of an array of imposing monuments.
A tour of Mithila would unravel many a magnificent structure you will find missing from these pages. For instance, as one walks around the wonderful Raj grounds in Darbhanga city itself, the Raj office would be found matching any palace in architectural splendor. Likewise, even in the interiors of Mithila, quaint structures of worship, scholarship of residence, despite their decay, would captivate the eye.
Darbhanga Raj, owners of the Darbhanga aviation which was among its several commercial enterprises, developed and maintained two airstrips at Darbhanga and Madhubani. The one at Darbhanga is now under the control of the Indian Air Force, while that at Madhubani is under the control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
A little known, rather forgotten, bit of history is the first flight over Mount Everest in 1933. Maharaja Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga and Raja Krityanand Singh of Banaili were the co-hosts to this expedition by military officers who took off from Purnia on their sorties to take pictures for the aerial mapping of the world’s tallest peak.
Nuggets like this make the monuments of Mithila all the more exotic.