Assam Tea Gardens Have Their Own Time

Written By Avinash Sharan

19th June 2019

Assam Tea Gardens Have Their Own Time



                          WOMEN IN ASSAM TEA GARDEN

Assam’s tea gardens follow a separate time zone known as Tea Garden Time or Chai Bagantime, which is one hour ahead of Indian Standard Time ( IST ). Laborers generally work in the tea gardens from 9 a.m. (IST 8 a.m.) to 5 p.m. (IST 4 p.m.). This system was introduced during British rule, keeping in mind the early sunrise in this part of India.

In many places in India, the sun rises and sets much earlier than official working hours. Sunrise is as early as 4 a.m. and sunset by 4 p.m. in northeast India, resulting in a loss of daylight hours and productivity. In particular, this creates a major issue for tea growers in Assam.

Chai Bagan time is the time period of Assam people who are working in the tea garden (Chai Bagan), here working time starts early one hour i.e. from 9 to 5 pm which is one hour early compared to rest of India.

why this occurs?

It occurs because the sun rises in the east, from the eastern side of India so sunrise and sunset in the Assam or northeastern states is 2 hours early. If they start working in same time as in the other parts of India, they will end up with darkness by 4:00 p.m. As it is difficult to select and pluck the tea leaves in the dark, therefore they are not able to do the job efficiently in the tea garden and time they follow is known as as chai bagan time which is one hour ahead of the Indian Standard Time.

why are they demanding a separate time zone?

Although the India government still refuses to allow the north-eastern zone of the country to have an independent time standard, the tea gardens of Assam have been adhering to one for more than a 150 years. Reasons are:

  1. Sunrises early there, if they open the schools and offices as per the Indian time, they will lose the precious and free sunlight in the morning and add the electricity cost opening offices till the evening. This is a major cause for the demand.
  1. Reduces the efficiency of the workers.
  1.  It also affects the body cycle.


  1.  India is geographically a very large country.
  2.  It stretches from 68* (degree) East longitude in Gujarat  to approximately 98* East  longitude in Arunachal Pradesh – almost 30 longitudes which is more than enough to have two time-zones.
  3.  Northeast loose important daylight which can be used productively as the sun rises as early as 4 am in summer and offices open at 10.
  4.   People’s productivity and efficiency will increase if they work during day light.

While the Central Government and State Governments remain divided on the issue, tea gardens continue to focus on the best way to harvest a great crop season after season for a happy teatime around the world.

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1 Comment

  1. Rainer Winkler

    Good article! It helped me a lot to understand it…


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