The Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP)

Graphic with Krishna temple on Patan Darbar square in Lalitpur, Nepal i3mainz, CC BY SA 4.0

The Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP) of the Heidelberg Centre of Transcultural Studies (HCTS) at the University of Heidelberg has the infrastructure for the endangered monuments and sites of Nepal’s cultural heritage. of Nepal’s cultural heritage. The i3mainz is responsible for the technical implementation and management of the inventory system. In the pilot phase, which ended in 2020, the focus was on the Kathmandu Valley. NHDP is now running as a regular project with an extended geographic focus until 2026. NHDP is funded by the Arcadia Fund.


The goal of the Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP) is to establish a digital infrastructure for the documentation of endangered monuments and sites of Nepal’s cultural heritage. For this purpose, the Digital Archive of Nepalese Architectures (DANA) will be expanded as an open-access resource to include of cultural heritage and used as a tool for the Department of Archaeology (DoA) of the Government of Nepal. provided to. 

 Dr. Ashish Karmacharya is responsible for coordinating the technical team and planning the technical activities. The system used in the project is based on the open source GIS solution Arches, a hybrid cultural heritage inventory and management system with CIDOC-CRM as the underlying ontology. Since April 2019, the data portal, now named DANAM, Digital Archive of Nepalese Arts and Monuments, has been in public use. 

 In 2020, the pilot phase ended, during which a focus was on generating and systematizing digital data, such as photographs or CAD floor plans of monuments, especially monastery courtyards and arcaded rest houses in the ancient city of Patan in the Kathmandu Valley. By then, DANAM had established itself as the most important data archive for Nepalese cultural monuments with more than 550 monuments, over 1000 inscriptions and about 2000 cultural objects. As a regular project, NHDP will continue until 2026. The geographical focus is now on the Kathmandu Valley, especially Kirtipur, Kathmandu and Patan, on Nuwakot and on Western Nepal.


The Digital Archive of Nepalese Arts and Monuments (DANAM), the data portal of the of the NHDP project, was upgraded and expanded. Together with the Dr. Karmacharya installed the updated Arches 5.2 system on two of the Arches 5.2 system on two servers at Heidelberg University. On the server, the data schema and the entire DANAM dataset were migrated. were migrated to one server, where work on the DANAM dataset continues. The second server is available for the development of data schemas and for experiments. available.

 New schemas are now being added to DANAM to allow copying of datasets and their metadata from other platforms. Thus, visual data in DANAM can be linked to those on historical persons, culturally significant sites, as well as inscriptions in heidicon, the object and multimedia database of Heidelberg University.  

 Also, an extensive glossary was developed that compiles terms used within DANAM and their meanings. The terms are linked to images from heidicon.

 Some processes in DANAM have now been automated. This includes the backup of the database and the extraction of data dumps that can be used for image transfer into heidicon.