Darbhanga, Apr 10 (PTI) A marble-made fish icon, which adorned the top of an ornamental canopy built during the Darbhanga Raj era in the heart of the city, has got broken allegedly due to “organisational lapse”.

The fish icon, considered very auspicious in the Mithila region, was found damaged yesterday, after it suffered a fall in the gusty winds, as “it was used to tie ‘shamiana’ (makeshift awning) for a cultural programme at the Chourangi,” a local resident and researcher, who did not wish to be identified, said.

Chourangi is a round iconic public plaza with the canopy at its centre, housing the Italianate white marble statue of Rameshwar Singh, a former ruler of the Darbhanga Raj, in the sprawling campus of the Lalit Narayan Mithila University (LNMU).

The iron gates on the three radial roads emerging out of the plaza also bear metallic fish icon, which were part of the royal insignia of the Darbhanga Raj.

A top official of the university, when contacted, admitted there was an “organisational lapse and the ‘shamiana’ end should not have been tied to it in the first place. It is unfortunate”.

“The third dance festival was organised on Sunday night by a local cultural group for which ‘shamiana’ were erected. Later that night, there were strong winds and the next day we heard about the broken fish icon that had got dislodged from the top of the canopy,” he said.

The fish icon is “Mithila’s pride and it was Chourangi’s crown”.

A team has already been made to fix the broken fish and restore it back to its original position, the official added.

The marble-made fish weighed very heavy and its pieces have been “stored at a suitable place,” he said.

The gleaming white marble statue of the maharaja, dressed in full regalia, bears signature of an Italian artist and mentions “Venizia, Italia” below his name.

The canopy with the statue was erected as a memorial to Maharaja Rameshwar Singh, after his death in 1929, by his successor and son, and the last ruler of Darbhanga Raj, Kameshwar Singh.

Incidentally, sometime in the past, the nose and the eyes of the maharaja’s statue were vandalised. And, till today it stands with a defaced nose.

Asked if the university will also restore the vandalised portion, the official claimed, “As far as I know, that vandalism took place before the university moved to this (Kameshwar Nagar) campus in mid-70s.” “We will try to get help of experts and attempt to restore the statue too to its original glory,” he added.

The Darbhanga Raj was a wealthy zamindari estate in north Bihar and gave endowments for contributing to establishment of several institutions.

Its rulers were also patrons of art and culture and built several magnificent palaces and mansions in Darbhanga, Patna, Delhi and other places.

The LNMU’s main building was earlier the Raj Secretariat and the neighbouring main building of the Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University is housed in the iconic 19th-century Anand Bagh Palace.

A gleaming white marble statue of Lakshmeshwar Singh stands in front of the Anand Bagh Palace or Lakshmeshwar Vilas Palace, built during the rule of Lakshmeshwar Singh.

Chourangi was last year also used for an exhibition on heritage of Darbhanga, showcasing its glorious past, all faded or lost now.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.