Lost Jewels of Darbhanga

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It is a city steeped in history, but that is unlikely to come through if you run a search for Darbhanga on the internet. Road accidents, crime reports and a stray story or two of someone attempting to create awareness about its fast fading old palaces, is all you will find. But Darbhanga, at the heart of the old Mithila Pradesh in Bihar hides many stories. Probably the land of Sita’s father King Janak in the Indian epic Ramayana, Darbhanga crops us in history circles for another reason. It was home to one of the most spectacular collections of jewels till as recently as the 1960s.
The Khandavala dynasty of Darbhanga that owned this spectacular collection of jewels were the biggest land owners of the region. They were also among the richest people in India. In fact through the 1950s and 1960s, the third richest man in India was not some Parsi industrialist or Marwari businessman. It was Kameshwar Singh, the last Maharaja of Darbhanga, a Bihari landlord.

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