Dirok Tea Estate in Assam
The Assam Dirok Tea Estate is part of the Mcleod Russel tea plantation group. It is one of the Companies most beautiful estates producing Assam Tea, lying in the Margherita area of Upper Assam. It is situated on the South Bank of the Brahmaputra, the garden has undulating terrain with the forested Patkai hills to the South and West and the River Dehing to its North.
The Assam Tea estate covers an area of 1,370 hectares with spectacular views to be found all over the tea garden. Dirok Tea Estate in Assam comprises of three growing divisions traditionally referred to as: Top Side, Bottom Side and Likhajan. In 2014 the name of “Top Side” was changed to Dirok and “Bottom Side” to Patkai.
Dirok’s Map coordinates are:
Latitude: 27.2° N
Longitude: 95.4° E
Altitude: 128 Mts. Above MSL
Drioks first tea bushes were planted in 1923. At that time it was an extension of the neighbouring Margherita Tea Estate and was known locally as “Makum Bagan”. Margherita was part of the old Assam Railways and Trading Company (AR&T) who handed over the Assam tea estate to the Makum Tea Company which was founded in 1892.
History of the Dirok Assam Tea Estate
Mr. J.M. Kilburn, who had joined the Makum Tea Company in 1909 and became Superintendent in 1919, handed over Dirok as a fully operational tea estate to its first Manager, Mr. Edward A. Kaye in 1928.
The main Garden Office was initially situated at the site of the current Ration Gowdown and Post Office before moving to what is now the Estate Hospital and to its present location within the factory complex.
The Factory itself was established in the late 1920’s with Mr B C Wood as its first factory assistant. Over the years the factory has been extensively modernised and has earned itself ISO-22000 certification as well as Rain Forest Alliance accreditation. Currently it manufactures over 23 Lakh’s of Tea (2.3 million Kg of Tea) per annum.
At its eastern border there is a boom gate called the Dirok gate which is always maned to allow access to the garden. Beyond this gate lies the wild Dehing Patkai Wildlife Reserve, the road through the reserve heads out to Deomali and Khonsa in Arunachal Pradesh. The road between Dirok and Margherita was only for one way traffic up until the 1970’s with the local “Chowkidars” guards stationed along its way to organise and control traffic.
The local flora and fauna is famed. An early assistant at Dirok a one Mr Austin Rufus who went on to become the estate Manager recalls collecting several varieties of exotic Orchids, Creepers and Ferns. Mr Rufus won many prizes at local Flowers Shows for his Ferns.
Wildlife in the Estate
Plenty of Local fauna including wild boars and pigs “Sooars” roamed the estate with the occasional Tiger passing through in search of prey, usually somebody’s Cow! The estate had lots of Snakes with Python's not being uncommon. On one occasion an assistant on “Kamjari” (daily field work) in the Patkai division stood on what he thought was a fallen tree branch to get a better view and was shocked when the “log” began to move. He had disturbed a ten foot Python from its postprandial slumber, the snake obviously was not amused and hissed in protest.
Mr Rufus recalled an area on the estate (Line 150) where a Stone Pillar had been placed to mark the spot where oil had once been prospected for. Estate workers would go there to collect the residual oil sludge to light their “Mashaals” torches which they used at night to ward off mischievous Elephants. The areas of Dirok and Likhajan are rich in oil and today have four capped wells producing for the local grid.
The old “Bottom Side” Likhajan division came into existence in 1952. In the estates section 33a between Likhajan and the Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary a pool was created by the damming of a perennial stream, this was built for the the “British Memsahibs” so they could take a dip! The workers called this the “Mem-Garha” (the pond for the Ladies). All was well until the local “Haathee’s” (Elephants) thought this was specially designed for them as a watering hole .. the Memsahibs had to give way !
The Assam Tea Estate Today
Dirok has been going for 93 years and during that time it has had a rich history and many great tea planters have worked on the estate. In recent years the quality of the estates tea production has improved and that is why at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company we are proud to stock Dirok Estate Teas. The Assam Tea Dirok Estate TGFOP1 is regarded as one of the “Jewels in the Crown” of the McLeod Russel Tea Company.