Institut für Raumbezogene Informations- und Messtechnik
Hochschule Mainz - University of Applied Sciences

The Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP)

The aim of the project is the documentation of the physical cultural heritage within Kathmandu Valley, espacially the monastic courtyards and the arcaded rest houses. Funded by Arcadia Fund and led by Heidelberg Centre of Transcultural Studies (HCTS), Heidelberg University, the project is supported by i3mainz as the technical Partner.

The Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP) intends to document physical cultural heritage and buildings that are highly vulnerable of being destroyed or neglected due to rapid urbanisation and frequent earthquakes, the last being the recent ones in April/May 2015. This two-year pilot project will complement the existing open-access Digital Archive of Nepalese Architectures (DANA) of Nepalese monuments and objects. It follows the up-to-date heritage documentation standards both

  • during the in-situ data collection and studies of selected monument types and
  • during enriching and populating the collected data into an open-access inventory management system.

In doing so, the project aims to develop DANA further as an open-access resource and as a tool for the Department of Archaeology (DoA), Government of Nepal, to manage, preserve and protect national and community heritage.
The project started in October 2018 and will run until September 2020. During these two years, the project will have documented 400+ monuments and their respective physical heritage within Kathmandu Valley and in particular within Patan, an old city inside the valley. It particularly focuses on two categories of most endangered architectural categories: the monastic courtyards and the arcaded rest houses.

The project is funded by London based Arcadia Fund and comprises networks both in Germany and Nepal. The project is led by Heidelberg Centre of Transcultural Studies (HCTS), Heidelberg University. i3mainz, Mainz University of Applied Science is a technical partner in the project and is responsible for conceptualizing, building up technical system required to provide open access to the data collected and fed into it. The project operates on the open-source software system Arches. Arches is an open-source GIS solution for cultural heritage inventorying and management. It is widely used inventory system to inventor physical heritage. Arches is a hybrid system that uses CIDOC-CRM as the foundational ontology.


The project is at its early phase. Currently, most focus is given to generate, collect and assemble data. This includes visiting the monuments, measuring different components and structures that include measuring the associated objects and sort and list them in a systematic way. This early activity also includes generation of digital data such as photographs taken on the sites or generating CAD site/ground plans of the monuments. It also includes digital conversions of non-digital data into digital ones. At its early stage, a group of experts from different related disciplines collaboratively and iteratively agreed on an input mask that will be used to list and sort the data collected and generated on the field. This group of experts includes heritage experts, architectures and Information scientists. i3mainz through the representation of Dr. Ashish Karmacharya played a major role during development and finalization of the input mask.

The input mask provided the required base for the schema of the Arches platform. Currently, the project is implementing Arches 4.3.3 which is an open version. Based on this, different branches and resource models are being developed within Arches. Those resource models are currently being tested using various test data feeds that simulate the real data from the field. After being tested, the data collected from the fields will be fed into these resource models. i3mainz through
Dr. Karmacharya plays an important and active role in the conception, development and implementation of this system. He is also involved in the future planning and strategy for the technological adaptation and use.

The first soft, beta release of the system is planned for April 2019. This release will include the first set harvested data that have been thoroughly revised for validation on the Arches system. The data will be open-accessed and will be published through either Arches Reports or the tailored made web-based client system using Arches API.


The NHDP-portal is currently under construction. The plan is to make it available in March 2019.

Basic Information

Period:     01.10.2018 - 30.09.2020
  • – Prof. Dr. Christiane Brosius, Professor of Visual and Media Anthropology at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural
  • – Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels, Senior Professor and Vice President of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • – Johannes Alisch, Communication and IT
  • – Matthias Arnold, IT
  • – Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context at Heidelberg University
  • – Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften
  • Krishna Temple at Patan Darbar Sqaure, Lalitpur in Nepal, with the inventory structure, Author: Ashish Karmacharya

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