Mithila is an ancient cultural region of North India lying between the lower ranges of the Himalayas and the Ganges River. The Nepal border cuts across the top fringe of this region. The Gandak and Kosi Rivers are rough western and eastern boundaries of Mithila.
The Ramayana records a dynastic marriage between Prince Rama of Ayodhya and Sita, the daughter of Raja Janak of Mithila. The town of Janakpur, in the northern Nepali section of Mithila, is believed to be Janak’s old capital. And Sita is a Mithila girl.
In the thirteenth century Mithila was invaded by Afghans, who deposed the Kshatriya ruler and placed a Maithil Brahman in control of land revenues over much of this region. This family soon began calling themselves kings, distributing land to other members of their caste, so that gradually land passed into the control of Maithil Brahmans. During Akbar’s reign in the sixteenth century, a second Maithil Brahman family came to rule as the Khandavala Dynasty. By British times, their estate, Darbhanga Raj, was the largest and richest of the great zamindari estates. Their capital was in the town of Darbhanga. They controlled most of Mithila until after Independence when the Republic of India brought an end to all the rajas and princely states.
Zamindar – a landowner; in pre-modern India, a zamindar might own a village and all its lands or even many hundreds of villages. He was entitled to raise revenues for the British, keeping a percentage for himself. Some of the great zamindars called themselves raja (king) and conducted themselves like kings. The Maharaja of Darbhanga was one of these.