Darbhanga is a city in the northern part of Bihar, India. A part of Gangetic plains of the north India, Darbhanga is located just around 50km from Nepal. The city is known for its association with Darbhanga Royal family - one of the richest landowners of the country during British Raj. The city and places around are very active culturally and politically but one of the poorest in India based on almost all social indicators. Darbhanga is considered as the cultural capital of Bihar with its rich musical, folk-art and literary traditions continuing from centuries. Songs written by famous Maithili poet Vidyapati is still sung at all religious and social occasions throughout this region.
Darbhanga is well connected to other parts of India and Bihar through a network of railway lines and roads.
The nearest airport is in Patna (120km). Patna airport is serviced by major domestic airlines like Indian, Jet Airways,Kingfisher and Indigo. There are direct flights to Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Kathmandu and Varanasi from Patna airport. There is an Airport Sprit airlines connects to Kolkata,PATNA from Darbhanga but you have to pay huge price, it is Specially for Air Force,Located near of Bazaar Samiti.
There are direct trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad , Pune, Patna, Ahmedabad , Amritsar , Ranchi , Bhubneshwar ,(Mysore) and many other cities in the country. Normal traveling time from New Delhi to Darbhanga is around 21 to 24 hours. Some of the trains that connect Darbhanga to other cities are:
Darbhanga is on the East West corridor map of India with 4-6 lane roads connecting from gandhinagar(GUJRAT)VIA(DARBHANGA)NH57 to silchar(ASSAM)and connecting it with other parts of the country. There are buses every 10minutes for Patna and (Muzaffarpur). its take 1:15 - 1:30 Hr. for Muzaffarpur and for Patna its takes 4 Hr. There are direct buses to Patna, Siliguri, Ranchi, Varanasi, etc.
Most reliable and easily available local transport is cycle rickshaw. You can also get shared three-wheelers and buses from the railway and bus terminal. Darbhanga is a not a small city and you have to take any means of transport around and see places of attraction.
Palaces built by Maharajah of Darbhanga are the most important attractions in Darbhanga. Just a kilometer from bus and train terminal, most of the palaces are located inside a walled campus. There are plenty of temples dedicated to mother goddess (primarily Kali and Durga) built by erstwhile kings of Darbhanga. Major temples include Shyama Kali temple and Kankali temple.
Some of the important palaces are now converted into universities (Lalit Narain Mithila University and Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University). Despite decay and chaos all around, you will encounter one of the best examples of Indo-European architectural traditions followed in building these palaces.
Darbhanga Fort is another attraction for outsiders coming to the city. Not much was built inside the fort except a few temples and a house for family deity. Successors of Darbhanga royal clan still stay inside the fort in an almost ruined house surrounded by mango trees.
Darbhanga is also known for its ponds and you will find hundreds of them across this city. Some of the major ones are Harahi (in front of Railway station), Dighi and Gangasagar.
There are two museums in Darbhanga (Chandradhari Museum and Maharaja Laxmiswar Singh Museum), both located in the same campus near the railway station (5 minutes walk). These museums exhibit clothes, arms, coins, and artifacts donated by the royal family of Darbhanga.
European Library of Mithila University and official library of Sanskrit University are a rich source for someone interested in researching ancient Indian culture and traditions. The library at Sanskrit University is know for its collection of around 5500 ancient manuscripts on subjects like Epic, Philosophy, Vyakaran, Dharmashastra, Agam-Tantra etc.
Darbhanga is a place known for its cultural traditions in music and it is home to the well-known Darbhanga tradition of Dhrupad singing. Some of the important artistes from this tradition include Pt. Ramchatur Mallik, Pt. Siyaram Tiwari, Pt. Vidur Mallik and others. Most of the famous singers of this ancient classical tradition now stay in the bigger Indian cities and there is not much you can do to explore this heritage.
Darbhanga is also know for its mangos, especially Maldah variety. It is said that Mughal emperor Akbar planted around 50,000 mango trees Darbhanga and it started a tradition of mango plantation in this region. Not much of the mango produce is exported from here and you can still find fresh succulent mangos directly picked from orchards.
Maithili is the language spoken in this part of the world and it's a member of Indo-European family. Maithili is one of the 22 official national languages of the country and spoken by around 45million people in Bihar and the Terai region of Nepal.
If you are planning to learn Sanskrit or Maithili, Darbhanga is a place for you. There are plenty of courses offered by two universities in Darbhanga for people interested in these languages. Darbhanga is also an ideal place to learn Madhubani painting - one of the richest folk-art traditions of India. Contact locals for a list of good teachers of this art.
You can buy authentic Mithila paintings really cheap here if you compare the prices from major city hubs like Delhi or Mumbai. Products made of sikki (a local hard grass) are also a good buy.
Makhana (Gorgon nut or Fox nut) is a local aquatic food product. Puddings and salted delicacies made of makhana are famous in this region. Other local delicacies include chuda-dahi and sattu. For non-vegetarians, fish in mustard paste will be the most rewarding experience.
There are plenty of restaurants across Darbhanga who serve Indian, European and Indian variant of Chinese food. Some of the well known are Rajasthan, Mithai Ghar,Baseraand Paul restaurant at Darbhanga Tower and Ganga Executive club inside Darbhanga Fort.
You can discuss the whole world over a glass of lassi at any of the lassi counters across this city. Do try out Bhang lassi. Shankaranand Shrbataalaya, near Rose Public School is one the places you can do so. Other important drink is sattu mixed with water and sugar or salt.
You can also taste variety of Mughal dishes like Pulaa, Baqar Khani (a type of bread), Kabaab, Kofta, Nihari, Paya. These are easily available in local restaurants, especially at ramkumar pandit hotel near laheriasarai bus stand,
Don's forget to chew "Pan" after eating delicious food.