The busy office-going people of Calcutta probably have noticed a beautiful white marble statue, located in the northeast corner of Dalhousie Square. But, since they have no time to lose and all are in a hurry to reach their respective offices within the scheduled time frame, they simply do not care to give it an inquisitive look, let alone to try to find out its identity. The statue is of a gorgeously bearded man in royal attire sitting upon his ornamental throne with a sword in the right hand and a shield in the left and wearing the ancestral head gear of his family and the chain of a Knight Grand Commander (GCIE) of the Order of the Indian Empire. It is the statue of Maharaja of Darbhanga, Sir Lakshmishwar Singh Bahadur, the most notable person in the Darbhanga Raj Family.
Sir Lakshmeshwar Singh Bahadur, (25 Sept 1858-16 Nov 1898), Maharaja of Darbhanga, was an influential land owner (Zamindar) of Darbhanga, presently in the State of Bihar. It is said that, the name Darbhanga was made by joining two local words – ‘Dar’ (Dwar) and ‘Bhangaa’, which means broken gates. It is considered by many that, the ‘Qiula’ (fort) was in Qilaghat and its gates were broken in 1326 AD by the cannons or elephants of Muhammad-bin Tughlak, when his forces attacked the last independent North Indian Hindu king.
Maharaja Lakshmishwar Singh was considered as the most notable philanthropist of his time. He donated £3, 00,000 Pound during the infamous Bihar famine of 1873-1874, constructed hundreds of miles of roads, planted thousands of trees for the comfort of travelers and constructed iron bridges over many rivers. He built, and entirely supported, a first-class Dispensary in Darbhanga, founded and subsidised a number of educational institutions too. He was appointed and served as a Member of the Supreme Legislative Council of the Viceroy, and took active part in debates on the Bengal Tenancy Act. Maharaja was one of the founder members of Indian National Congress and also the principal donor during its initial days. In 1898, along with W.C.Banerjee, he publicly criticised and fought against the proposed malicious amendment of section 124-A and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code, which was meant to suppress freedom of the Indian press.
The statue of the Mahaja in Dalhousie Square is an excellent work of art. Each and every detail of it had been carved with minute and meticulous perfection. It is the last and the only known work commissioned in India by the eminent British Sculptor Edward Onslow Ford. The beautiful and majestic statue was unveiled by Sir Andrew Fraser, Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, on March 25, 1904, in the presence of many eminent personalities like Sir Gurudas Banerjee, Raja Peary Mohan Mukherjee and others.