KASHI ! The abode of Lord Shiva has been the centre point of music, dance, drama and performing arts since time immemorial. These celestial attributes are very much in the air of the city. History bears the testimony that all great artists of India have once performed in Varanasi and Stage of Shri Nagri Natak Mandali has been a witness to it.
The tradition of stage play or drama is approximately 150 Years old in Varanasi. It started in the year 1868 with the live on-stage play written by Pandit Shitala Prasad by the title name of Janaki Mangal. It is difficult to say that how this performing art of drama continued for next 40 - 45 years but it is very much certain that people of Varanasi have been perfect in writing and performing of dramas on stage and that is why the most famous drama companies of that era had their evolution from Varanasi.
Raunak Banarasi, Talib Banarasi, Betab Banarasi and revolutionary Aaga Hashra Kashmiri were the most famous dramatist of the city. Later when eminent scholar Bhartendu Babu Harischandra joined the rangmanch it came as a dawn of a new age in the world of drama and it was duly named as Bhartendu Yug. While this all was happening there was new unfolding taking place by the decree of providence, four young people Shri Haridas Manik, Shri Brijendra Saha and Krishna Das went to see the drama Maharana Pratap being performed at The Central Hindu School. They got so much influenced by the play that in order to provide a permanent platform to the plays of Bhartendu Babu Harischandra, they established Nagri Natya Kala Pravartan Mandali and so the institution took its first breath in the year 1909.
On 27th July, Tuesday 1909 mandali played its first drama Satya Harischandra being written by Bhartendu Babu Harischandra. The play was performed in the august presence of noble personalities like Maharaja Gighaur, Raja Majauhli, Raja Basti, Kashiraj, Raja Munshi Madhav Lal and Raja Moti Chand.