Architectural research in Dolpo
Dolpo is a Nepalese region culturally influenced by Tibet. It encompasses four valleys situated in a territory bordering the Tibet Autonomous Region (China). More than 90 percent of the area is lying over 3500 meters above sea level. Dolpo has the lowest population density of all Nepalese regions. Surrounded by the mountain ranges of the Himalayas, without roads, electricity and almost no modern means of communication, a relatively untouched culture has been preserved here. The Upper Dolpo valleys in the north can only be reached with official travel permit and by crossing more than 5000 meter high passes. The conditions framing the field research are restricted by these political, geographic and climatic circumstances. The next airport is in Juphal at 2460 meters above sea level, about 12 kilometers from Dunai, the capital of the district. From here, the way up to Upper Dolpo can be covered exclusively on bridle paths and accompanied by local mountain guides and carriers.
The project was launched in April 2018. The first research trip took place immediately after that, from May 7 to June 17, with the scope to first gather information of the state of the various sacral buildings in the area. Traveling participants were Amy Lee Heller, Holger Neuwirth and Carmen Auer. The approved funding allowed a duration of a field research in Dolpo of 30 days. The itinerary led from Dunai northwards to Ringmo/Phoksumdo (3640 m) where the control station between Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo is situated, then further over the Phulbari-La (5431 m) to Shey (4345 m) and to Bijer (3838 m). The way back went over the Neng-La (5368 m) to Saldang (4055 m), on to Tsa (4083 m), over the Jyanta-La (5221 m) to Tokyu / Kagar and Dho Tarap to Dunai.
In a subsequent step, selected significant structures will be surveyed in the following field research and documented with the required accuracy. In consequence the detailed photographic and plan documentation will enable a detailed analysis of the architectural structures and the differing evolution of building types in this region. The elaborated material will lay a foundation for a future building research and for the necessary restoration measures in Dolpo.