A Brief History of Muzaffarpur

 

Muzaffarpur district, ‘The Land Of Leechi’ was created in 1875 for the sake of administrative convenience by splitting up the earlier district of Tirhut. The present district of Muzaffarpur came to its existence in the 18th century and named after Muzaffar Khan, an Amil (Revenue Officer) under British Dynasty. Purbi Champaran and Sitamarhi districts on North, on the South Vaishali and Saran districts, on the East Darbhanga and Samastipur districts and on the West Saran and Gopalganj districts surround Muzaffarpur. Now it has won international encomiums for its delicious Shahi Leechi and China Leechi

 

It is, of course impossible to trace back the history of this region to its earliest origins, but we can trace back it’s stream of strong heritage a very long way through the ancient Indian epic Ramayan, which still bears a significant role in Indian civilization. To initiate with the Legend, Rajarshi Janak was ruling Videha, the mythological name of this entire region including eastern Nepal and northern Bihar. Sitamarhi, a place in this region, bears a value of sacred Hindu belief where, Seeta (other name Vaidehi: The Princes of Videha) sprang to life out of an earthen pot while Rajarshi Janak was tilling the land.

 

The recorded history of the district dates back to the rise of the Vrijjan Republic. The center of political power also shifted from Mithila to Vaishali. The Vrijjan Republic was a confederation of eight clans of which the Licchavis were the most powerful and influential. Even the powerful kingdom of Magadh had to conclude matrimonial alliances in 519 B.C. with the neighboring estates of the Licchavis. Ajatshatru invaded Vaishali and extended his sway over Tirhut. It was at this time that Patliputra (the modern Patna) was founded at the village Patali on the banks of the sacred river Ganga and Ajatshatru built an invincible fortress to keep vigil over the Licchavis on the other side of the river. Ambarati, 40 Kms from Muzaffarpur is believed to be the village home of Amrapali, the famous Royal court dancer of Vaishali.

 

Vaishali, a center of religious renaissance, Baso Kund, the birth place of Mahavir, the 24th Jain Tirthankar and a contemporary of Lord Buddha continue to attract visitors from across the international boarders.                  

                       

From the visit of the Hieuen Tsang’s till the rise of the Pala dynasty, Muzaffarpur was under the control of Maharaja Harsha Vardhan, a powerful sovereign of North India. After 647 A.D. The district passed on to the local chiefs. In the 8th century A.D. the Pala kings continued to have their hold over Tirhut until 1019 A.D.  Chedi kings of Central India also exercised their influence over Tirhut till they were replaced by the rulers of the Sena dynasty towards the close of the 11the century.

                       

                        Between 1211 & 1226, Ghais-u-ddin Iwaz, the ruler of Bengal, was the first Muslim invader of Tirhut. He, however, could not succeed in conquering the kingdom but extorted tributes. It was in 1323 that Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq established his control over the district.

 

The history of Muzaffarpur will remain incomplete without a reference to the Simraon dynasty (in the north-east part of Champaran) and its founder Nanyupa Deva who extended his power over the whole of Mithila and Nepal. During the regime of Harasimha Deva, the last king of the dynasty, Tughlaq Shah invaded Tirhut in 1323 and gained control over the territory. Tughlaq Shah handed over the management of Tirhut to Kameshwar Thakur. Thus, the sovereign power of Tirhut passed from the Hindu chiefs to the Muslims but the Hindu chief continued to enjoy complete autonomy uninterruptedly.

                       

Towards the close of the 14th century the whole of North Bihar including Tirhut passed on to the kings of Jaunpur and remained under their control for nearly a century until Sikandar Lodi of Delhi defeated the king of Jaunpur. Meanwhile, Hussain Shah, the Nawab of Bengal had become so powerful that he exercised his control over large tracts including Tirhut. The emperor of Delhi advanced against Hussain Shah in 1499 and got control over Tirhut after defeating its Raja. The power of the Nawabs of Bengal began to wane and with the decline and fall of Mahood Shah, north Bihar including Tirhut formed a part of the mighty Mughal Empire. Though Muzaffarpur with the entire north Bihar had been annexed yet the petty powerful chieftains continued to exercise effective control over this area till the days of Daud Khan, the Nawab of Bengal. Daud Khan had his stronghold at Patna and Hajipur and after his fall a separate Subah of Bihar was constituted under the Mughal dynasty and Tirhut formed a part of it.

 

The victory of East India Company in 1764 at the battle of Buxar gave them control over whole of Bihar and they succeeded in subduing the entire district. The success of the insurgent at Delhi in 1857 caused grave concern to the English inhabitants in this district and revolutionary fervor began to permeate the entire district. Muzaffarpur played its role and was the site of the famous bomb case of 1908. The young Bengali revolutionary, Khudi Ram Bose, a boy of barely 18 years was hanged for throwing the bomb at the carriage of Pringle Kennedy who was actually mistaken for Kingsford, the District Judge of Muzaffarpur. After independence, a memorial to this young revolutionary patriot was constructed at Muzaffrapur, which still stands. The political awakening in the country after the First World War stimulated nationalist movement in Muzaffarpur district also. The visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Muzaffarpur district in December 1920 and again in January 1927 had tremendous political effect in arousing the latent feelings of the people and the district continued to play a prominent role in the country’s struggle for freedom.

 

Muzaffarpur played a very significant role in the history of North-Eastern India. The peculiarity of Muzaffarpur in Indian civilization arises out of its position on the frontier line between two most vibrant spiritual influences and most significantly, to this day, it is a meeting place of Hindu and Islamic culture and thoughts. All sorts of modified institutions, representing mutual assimilation, rise along the boarder line. It has undoubtedly been this highly diversified element within her boundaries that has so often made Muzaffarpur the birthplace of towering geniuses.