Under the British Rule, Darbhanga was a part of Sarkar Tirhut up to 1875, when it was constituted into a separate district. The subdivisions had been created earlier – Darbhanga Sadar in 1845, Madhubani in 1866 and Samastipur (then known as Tajpur) in 1867. It was the part of Patna division till 1908, when the Tirhut division was created with its headquarters at Muzaffarpur. As a result of reorganization of districts in the State which took effect in the year 1972, Madhubani and Samastipur subdivision were upgraded as independent districts and then the trimmed Darbhanga district has two subdivisions, viz, Darbhanga Sadar and Benipur consisting of 12 Development Blocks in all. Biraul Subdivision was created in 1992 and six more Development Blocks were created namely Hanuman Nagar, Tardih, Gaura Bauram, Kiratpur, Kusheshwar Asthan East and Alinagar in later stage. The district is bounded on the north by Madhubani district, on the south by the district of Samastipur, on the east by Saharsa district and on the west by the district of Muzaffarpur and Sitamarhi.

The district takes its name from its only town Darbhanga the District headquarters, which is said to have been founded by one Darbhangi Khan, about whom practically nothing is known. It is also held that the name Darbhanga has been derived from Dwar Banga or Dari – Banga, meaning the ‘door of Bengal’. This derivation does not appear to be very correct as division between Bengal and Bihar has always been further to the east. However, the linguistic and cultural affinity with Bengal may be said to commence from here.

Darbhanga town attained the status of a city (Population 1 lakh and above) in 1961. Darbhanga is the seat of the maharaja of Darbhanga. Laheriasarai which is the seat of district and divisional administration is a part of the Darbhanga town. The Raj area is a well developed and beautifully laid-out complex of palaces, temples, offices, parks, garden and ponds. There are a number of palaces built by the successive Maharajas, important among them being Nargauna Palace, Rambagh Palace, Anandbagh bhawan and Bela Palace. A number of buildings are in the use of the Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University, Darbhanga and Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Darbhanga. The old Raj Library has been taken over by L. N. Mithilia University. Perhaps Darbhanga is the only city in India, which has two universities in a campus. The Maharajas of Darbhanga have traditionally been very great patrons of art and literature and through their munificence have always provided encouragement to the scholars of Maithili and Sanskrit. Mahesh Thakur who founded the Raj was a renowned scholar of Sanskrit. The estate was conferred upon him by Emperor Akbar who was very much impressed by Raghunandan Jha, a scholar and disciple of Mahesh Thakur.

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