Jigmi Wangdi  

To document important heritage sites and establish a database system, the culture department launched an inventory and database system for the cultural heritage sites in Thimphu on September 28.

The charge de affairs of the US Embassy in Delhi, Patricia Lacina, Culture Director Nagtsho Dorji and officials attended the launch.

The culture department has documentation and inventory data of some important heritage sites but owing to a lack of proper inventory and database system, the information is underutilised. The database which was previously maintained in an excel sheet, took arduous effort for people to understand as huge information was compiled together, which has potential risks of the data being manipulated and the public could not access it.

With the launch of the new database system, it is expected to be easier and more convenient for the public to access information about the heritage sites via the department’s website.

The institution of an inventory and database system will enhance the current practice and protection of heritage sites, and play a pivotal role in the registration and designation of heritage sites, which in turn is value-based protection of heritage sites. The value-based protection is the key principle of the Cultural Heritage Bill of Bhutan, 2016.

So far, the first phase of the project has been able to collectively document 68 selected cultural heritage sites: 26 sites in Bumthang; 22 sites in Trashigang; and 20 sites in Mongar.

The department plans to continue the documentation in five western dzongkhags to draw regional comparisons and to understand the reality of the situation of the protection and management of the heritage sites in the country. The department will collaborate with the National Land Commission to integrate the Geographic Information System to show the real-time location of the sites.

A team from the DoC surveyed to document the heritage sites in the three dzongkhags. The DoC has been working on creating a database and inventory system for cultural heritage sites for the last decade. This project took two years to complete.

The project received a total of USD 1.26 million through the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation program. Bhutan Foundation assisted the project with technical support.