DARBHANGA, a town and district of British India, in the Patna division of Bengal. The town is on the left bank of the Little Baghmati river, and has a railway station. Pop. (1901) 66,244. The town is really a collection of villages that have grown up round the residence of the raja. This is a magnificent palace, with gardens, a menagerie and a good library. There are a first-class hospital, with a Lady Dufferin hospital attached; a handsome market-place, and an Anglo-vernacular school. The district of Darbhanga extends from the Nepal frontier to the Ganges. It was constituted in 1875 out of the unwieldy district of Tirhoot. Its area is 3348 sq. m. In 1901 the population was 2,912,611, showing an increase of 4% in the decade. The district consists entirely of an alluvial plain, in which the principal rivers are the Ganges, Buri Gandak, Baghmati and Little Baghmati, Balan and Little Balan, and Tiljuga. The land is especially fertile in the more elevated part of the district S.W. of the Buri Gandak; rice is the staple crop, and it may be noted that the cultivator in Darbhanga is especially dependent on the winter harvest. The chief exports are rice, indigo, linseed and other seeds, saltpetre and tobacco. There are several indigo factories and saltpetre refineries, and a tobacco factory. The district is traversed by the main line of the Bengal & North-Western railway and by branch lines, part of which were begun as a famine relief work in 1874.
The maharaja bahadur of Darbhanga, a Rajput, whose ancestor Mahesh Thakor received the Darbhanga raj (which includes large parts of the modern districts of Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Monghyr, Purnea and Bhagalpur) from the emperor Akbar early in the 16th century, is not only the premier territorial noble of Behar but one of the greatest noblemen of all India. Maharaja Lachhmeswar Singh Bahadur, who succeeded to the raj in 1860 and died in 1898, was distinguished for his public services, and especially as one of the most munificent of living philanthropists. Under his supervision his raj came to be regarded as the model for good and benevolent management; he constructed hundreds of miles of roads planted with trees, bridged all the rivers, and constructed irrigation works on a great scale. His charities were without limit; thus he contributed £300,000 for the relief of the sufferers from the Bengal famine of 1873-1874, and it is computed that during his possession of the raj he expended at least f 2,000,000 on charities, works of public utility, and charitable remissions of rent. For many years he served as a member of the legislative council of the viceroy with conspicuous ability and moderation of view. As representative of the landowners of Berar and Bengal he took an important part in the discussion on the Bengal Tenancy Bill. He was succeeded by his brother, Maharaja Rameshwar Singh Bahadur, who was born on the 16th of January 1860, and on attaining his majority in 1878 was appointed to the Indian Civil Service, serving as assistant magistrate successively at Darbhanga, Chhapra and Bhagalpur. In 1886 he was created a raja bahadur, exempted from attendance at the civil courts, and appointed a member of the legislative council of Bengal. He was created a maharaja bahadur on his succession to the raj in 1898. Like his brother, he was educated by an English tutor, and his administration carried on the enlightened traditions of his predecessor.
See Sir Roper Lethbridge, The Golden Book of India.
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