At the start of the twentieth century there were four medical colleges (at Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Lahore) in then undivided India, and 22 medical schools called the Temple Medical schools. The one in Patna was established in 1874. These schools were named after Sir Richard Temple who joined the Bengal Civil Services in 1846 and went on to become Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal and later Governor of Bombay. To commemorate the 1921 visit of prince of Wales (later king Edward VIII, who then abdicated) to Patna, it was decided to upgrade the medical school to a college and so it was renamed Prince of Wales Medical college when it opened formally in 1927.
At the same time the government was thinking of building a new medical school in North Bihar. The choice would have been Muzzaffarpur but for the fact that Maharaja Rameshwar Singh of Darbhanga had made the single largest donation of five lakh rupees plus a part of his property, Darbhanga House, in patna for the medical college. During British rule, Darbhanga was the largest and best run zamindari and yet its rulers (considered a royal family by the people of Mithila) were also great supporters of the Independence movement, public works, arts and crafts, education and industry. Many universities such as the ones in Banaras, Calcutta, Allahabad, Aligarh and Patna benefited from generous donations by them.
Having convinced the authorities to start the school in Darbhanga, the maharaja contributed another five lakh rupees and unlimited land for this purpose. It is therefore to honour him that Darbhanga Madical school was established in 1925.
The Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (dmch) today is spread out over a hundred acres. Wards, hospital buildings, teaching blocks, hostels and residences are scattered across the compus. The old buildings with high ceilings which housed the school and the hospital from the early days still exist and are in use.
Medical school in India were formed mainly to train public service officers (Hospital Assistants) who were doctors of a lower standard than Assistant Surgeons who were educated at medical colleges. The schools offered a shorter course of three and a half years called a Licentiate in Medical practice (lmp) The Darbhanga Medical School became a medical college in 1946. However, as the facilities were inadequate at first, after two years medical students were transferred to the Prince of Wales Medical College, Patna to complete their mbbs. Thus, it was only in 1948 that the dmc took in the first batch of medical students who would graduate in 1953.
Dr Jagdeo Sharma is from the 1956 batch. He joined dmch in 1962 as a clinical pathologist and retired as head of department in 1974. He recalled how the town was very small with no crowds when he was a student, and how grain was grown in the fields in front of the hostel. When he was admitted to the college he was one of the few who wore Western trousers, Everyone else, including many teachers, wore the local dress either dhoti or pyjama with a kurta. Several students even sported pigtails or tufts according to the dictates of their communities. But within a month the pigtails were cut off and all the students started to wear trousers. "Everyone became a saheb and many ate meat for the first time." says Dr Sharma, remembering too the respect they got in the town from shopkeepers and the people. There were no pucca roads and only the Maharaja of Darbhanga, Kameshwar Singh his brother, Raja Bahadur Visheshwar Singh, and Dr Shital Prasad Sinha had cars.
Dr Shital Prasad Sinha, or 'Shital babu' as he was known, was a professor and the college's first hod of Medicine when the medical school was upgraded. He was very popular with the students who called him 'Boss' and no one missed his class, He would arrive in his Rolls Royce or Packard on the dot of 1.10 pm to hold his class, after leaving the hospital at 1 pm.
Even today Dr sp Sinha is remembered as a somewhat flamboyant and legendary figure with a sense of style that many emulated. He was one of the four doctors who put dmc on the map. A graduate of the prince of wales Medical College Patna, he first came to dmc in 1953 and joined the anatomy department as a tutor and later as a lecturer in medicine, according to his son Dr Shashi Bhushan Sinha, who is Associate professor in Medicine at dmc. At this time he came to know the elite of Darbhanga and struck a close friendship with the Raja Bahadur. The two were often seen playing tennis on a field near the college. In 1939 Dr Sinha left for further training in London when world war ll broke out. His lodgings were destroyed in heavy bombing and only his clothes were found. Presumed dead, The newspapers in Bihar mourned the loss of this bright doctor. But Dr Sinha survived. He appeared for the mrcp exam soon after and then took a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Travelling back to India via Cape of Good Hope, his ship was grounded and he was assumed dead for a second time. But he survived again and returned to dmc in 1942.
Dr Sinha was extremely fond of his students and encouraged them to speak out and debate, But if they did not appear on time at the exam hall he would send out search parties! He believed it was better that villages were filled with doctors with mbbs rather than quacks for even if his students had not worked very hard, they would have learnt something.
A brilliant clinician known for his diagnostic skills, he encouraged his students to remember that as they were working in a poor area, they needed to be able to make diagnoses without facilities, One of the few people in the country to use an ecg machine in those days, Dr Sinha had a special interest in heart diseases and developed his own version of the machine at dmc. A photo of this machine is said to be at the Rustom Jal Vakil Museum of Medical Artifacts in Mumbai. Sadly, he became seriously ill with myocardial infarction and died just snort of his fiftieth birthday in 1959. The famous cardiologist Dr Paul Dudley-White wrote in a letter of condolence to his family: "Here was felled a man who alone knew his disease best."
Several doctors at dmc spoke of those who had helped establish the college in the early years. Many who became heads of departments or principals had returned to Darbhanga with degrees from the uk and were well known in their field Dr gb Sahay was the first principal (1948-51), When dmc became a fully functional medical college. He is also known as Bihar's father of Forensic medicine. He was a brilliant teacher of medical jurisprudence who held long classes, and his word on medicolegal cases was final. He would tell his students, "Come and fix a class with me when you are free, because I will take a class of three hours," and then keep them spellbound with a plethora of stories and anecdotes while discoursing on age determination, kidnapping and murder ! Teaching standards in those days were very high. Regular tutorial classes were conducted by all teachers including H.O.D.'s. In 4th year students were sent to Kanke Mental Hospital; Namkum Immunization Centre; Itki Sanitorium in Ranchi. In those days, there was no P.S.M., instead there was hygeine. 1st Proff. H.O.D. of health was Dr. Govind Prasad (Guruji/Mammu as he was known lovingly) In 1960-61 P.S.M. was born and Dr Laxmikant its father.
Dr bn banerjee was the first head of surgery at dmc and principal from 1952-56. Dr Syed Mubarak Nawab was the principal from 1967-69. A bold and renowend surgeon and gynaecologist, he was very strict on protocol in the wards. At his retirement function he made students cringe by demanding to know if they remembered which muscles were involved in going up the stairs and which going down! Dr sd tiwari, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology was known for his manoeuvres in surgery. He was a small-built man who started speaking as soon as he entered the classroom, which meant that students had to be very alert. His questions targeted especially at toppers in other subjects, on breech presentation and hand prolapse, etc, proved to be a Waterloo for many students, recalled Dr Hari Nandan. Yadav.
I met Dr Hari Nandan Yadav, who was principal in 1986-88, in his clinic at his residence where he sat dressed in along white shirt and crisp dhoti. On the walls were eye charts in Urdu, Bengali, Hindi and English. Dr Yadav had long retired as principal and HOD of ophthalmology but patients were still queuing up to consult him. He graduated in 1953 (the first mbbs batch) from Darbhanga Medical College. He recalled the orchards on the campus and studying under trees. During the floods in Bihar in 1953-54 when he was houseman, the entire 1953 batch was packed off to patna for deputation to the flood affected areas. He returned to dmc as Resident Surgical Officer in 1957. and went on to specialize in ophthalmology and ent. however the intervening years had given him valuable experience in dealing with malaria, kala azar, tuberculosis and cholera-diseases common to the area.
These common diseases gave students plenty of bodies on which to practice dissection hall is still in use in the same building where the medical school started. Now classes for pre-clinical subjects are held in this building. This hall was the largest in the college and when space was required for big meetings in the old days, the bodies would be removed, the room leaned and chairs set up. Pujas were also held here with the Darbhanga maharaja and the elite of the town in attendance!
The hospital was located in a one-storey building with wings for surgery, gynaecology and medicine, which today is the medicine ward. in 1951, a separate building for women and children was inaugurated by Mrs Indira Gandhi and a surgical block was added in 1984 with 372 beds. Currently, the hospital has 1,032 beds and about 2,000 patients are seen daily in outpatient clinics. In 1988, an earthquake destroyed the hostel of British Raj vintage. On his visit to the area. Rajiv Gandhi, then prime Minister, ordered the building of three new hostels which are now named after him.
Since the very first inspection of dmch in 1953 the college was recognized by the Medical Council of India Dr. C.S. Patel was the inspector. It has expanded over the years into a multidisciplinary institution, offering postgraduate degrees since 1958, but super specialities are yet to be made available. Among its better known alumni are Dr Mohan Roy, an eminent cardiothoracic surgeon who died last year, and Dr. K.K. Sinha, a neurophysician based in Ranchi. It is in Darbhanga that the very first postgraduate degree in anaesthesia was granted in all of Asia.
The college posts interns at three primary health centres in the district in rotation. There are plans to start departments for specializations like neurosurgery, plastic surgery and urology and to expand lodging facilities for students and interns, Free medicine is available under schemes of the Bihar government and the dmch has plans of expanding and upgrading existing facilities. The dialysis unit, N.I.C.U. & I.C.U. are running and funds for developing the trauma centre and cancer hospital have been sanctioned. C.T. Scan & M.R.I. have been stalled recently.