Darbhanga: 30-year-old Gopal Jha feels a sense of betrayal when he sees the once-regal palaces and forts in his hometown being reduced to mute backdrops for high-octave election campaigns in this historic city, once a thriving centre of Mithila heritage.
"Politicians come here every election, make loud speeches, attack their opponents and then go back, only to return in the next polls. But Darbhanga and its people remain there, in that same state of affairs, even worse after every poll," he says.
Dust and din of political campaigns have settled in the nine districts of Bihar, including Darbhanga, Madhubani, and Purnia, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi held massive rallies, ahead of the last phase of the high-stake Assembly polls due tomorrow.
Darbhangha town, falling in north Bihar's historic Tirhut region, was once the capital of the princely state of Raj Darbhanga, but government apathy and public indifference have led a heritage city to go to seed, allege its residents.
The region under the Raj, thrived for over four centuries, and saw its heydays till 1960s, when its royal palaces and gardens were celebrated with glowing words in London's prestigious magazines.
But soon, after the death of the last king Maharaja Kameshwar Singh in 1962, the legacy slipped into decay and the place, instead of becoming a tourist magnet, never could find a place on the tourist map.
Raj Maidan, where Modi addressed his rally on Monday, was once the manicured Polo Ground, and the premises of L N Mithila University, established in 1970s, was the imposing Raj's Secretariat while the Laxmi Vilas Palace or Anand Bagh Palace now houses Kameshawar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University (KSDSU), all in dire need of restoration.
Fate of Ram Bagh Fort, once hailed as India's other Red Fort, has been much worse, its boundary walls splattered with garish advertisements, the moats all dried up, and high-rises have come up inside its famed grounds, diminishing the grandeur that it once exhibited.
A section of city residents, blame the region's loss of glory to both the "neglect of Bihar by the Centre" and "lack of vision" on part of leaders from Bihar.
"After death of Rajendra Prasad (first President), Krishna Singh (first Chief minister of Bihar) and Maharaja Kameshwar Singh, in succession, Bihar never really saw a leader who had any vision for heritage preservation. And, contemporary leaders are even worse.
"One of the Chief ministers in 60s, was even against the idea of museumisation of buildings. And, these are some of the factors, why Bihar in general, and Darbhanga in particular have not been able to cash in on the heritage, the way Jaipur, Jodhpur and other cities in Rajasthan have done," alleges Ashish Jha, a journalist with a Hindi daily.