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Mithila (region)

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Mithila (region)

Largest cities
List Darbhanga Muzaffarpur Biratnagar Janakpur

Mithila (IAST: mithilā, Tirhuta: মিথিলা, Hindi/Urdu: मिथिला متھلا, also known as Mithilanchal, Tirhut and Tirabhukti) is a geographical and cultural region located in the northern part of South Asia. The native language is known as Maithili and its speakers are referred to as Maithils. Mithila is bounded on the north by the Himalayas and on the south, west and east by the Ganges, Kaushiki and Gandaki respectively. The majority of the Mithila region falls within modern day India more specifically the state of Bihar. Mithila was also the ancient name of the city of Janakpur.


The name is commonly used to refer to the Videha Kingdom itself, as well as to the modern-day territories that fall within the ancient boundaries of Videha (Mithila, India and Mithila, Nepal). The Mithila kingdom existed on the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plain, an area which today is spread over more than half of India's Bihar state and the eastern parts of the adjoining Madhesh region. Although Janakpur was the capital of Mithila during the ancient period, it was later shifted to Darbhanga during the rule of Raj Darbhanga.


The name Mithila is derived after mythical King 'Miti' which in Dhatki language means "Soil". He was supposed to have been created from the body of his father King Nimi. He established the capital of his kingdom at Mithilapuri and hence the region came to be called Mithila. Since he was born out of body of his father, he took the title Janaka. After this, the Kings of Mithila were called Janaka.

Another name of the region was Tirabhukti meaning "bound by rivers". This was later corrupted into Tirhut.

Vedic period

Mithila first gained prominence after being settled by Indo-Aryan peoples who established the Videha kingdom. During the late Vedic period (c. 1100-500 BCE), Videha became one of the major political and cultural centers of South Asia, along with Kuru and Pañcāla. The Kings of the Videha Kingdom where called Janakas.

The Videha Kingdom later became incorporated into the Vajji confederacy which was based in Mithila.

Medieval period

From the 11th century to the 20th century, Mithila was ruled by various indigenous dynasties. The first of these where the Karnatas who where of Parmar Rajput origin, the Oinwar dynasty who where Maithil Brahmins and the Khandavalas of Raj Darbhanga who where also Maithil Brahmins. It was during this period that the capital of Mithila was shifted to Darbhanga.


Mithila is distinct geographical region with natural boundaries like rivers and hills. It is largely a flat and fertile alluvial plain criss-crossed by numerous river which originate from the Himalayas. The flat plains and fertile sources have meant that Mithila has a rich variety of biotic resources however frequent flood have restricted the people from taking advantage of these.

Rivers and floods

Mithila has seven major rivers, Mahananda, Gandak, Kosi, Bagmati, Kamala, Balan, and the Budhi Gandak. They flow from the Himalaya mountains in the north to the Ganges river in the south. These rivers regularly flood, depositing silt onto the farmlands and sometimes causing death or hardship.

Madhubani art

Madhubani painting/Mithila painting was traditionally created by the women of the Brahman, Dusadh and Kayastha communities in Mithila region in India and it is name after Madhubani district of Bihar which is where is originated from. This painting as a form of wall art was practiced widely throughout the region; the more recent development of painting on paper and canvas originated among the villages around Madhubani, and it is these latter developments that may correctly be referred to as Madhubani art.


According to Jain Agamas, 21st Tirthankara Naminatha was born in Mithila to King Vijaya and Queen Vapra. Mithila was ruled by King Vijaya of Ikshvaku dynasty and after him, by Lord Naminatha.

See more

  • Maithil
  • Mithila, India
  • References

    Mithila (region) Wikipedia

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