Biligiri Rangan Hills, or Biligiris, is located to the south of the Heritage City of Mysore. The name literally means “White Hills” as it is perpetually soaked in a hanging mist. The imposing mountain range is home to the 120 year old Attikan Estate which is crucial to the development of coffee production in the area.
The pioneer behind Attikan, responsible for transforming the shrub land into a ‘coffee best’, is Mr Randolph Hayton Morris. He came to the Hills in 1888, ignoring those who discouraged him from pursuing his mission. Their argument was that the area housed dangerous animals with virtually no human habitation in sight. However thanks to Mr. Morris’ single minded devotion, determination and courage to act on his convictions, Attikan today is not only a producer of specialty coffee, but being flanked by a sanctuary, is wonderfully linked with its natural environment.
The name “Veer Attikan” comes from the word ‘Veer’ which means valour, courage and strength — all the things exhibited by Mr Randolph Morris when turning shrub land into a coffee belt. (The current management is still in contact with the descendents of Mr Morris who live in the U.K.)
There is also another angle to the word ‘Veer’ which has had a large impact on this estate. A notorious bandit named Veerappan was wanted in the States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for abduction, poaching and smuggling sandalwood. He used the B.R. Hills as one of his hideouts. After evading police for nearly two decades, he was shot dead in 2004. During his reign of terror, none of the management team visited the estate, fearing kidnap and ransom.
This is the second year that we have been working directly with Attikan Estate and we have been very happy with the results. Not only has it renewed our interest in Indian coffees it has also inspired us to plan ways to continue to improve into the future as a partnership.
Region: The estate is located in the richly bio-diverse Biligiri Rangan Hills, 120kms south of Mysore and 250kms from Bangalore, at the confluence of the Western and Eastern Ghats in the State of Karnataka.
Altitude: 1300-1650 masl
Acreage: The estate comprises 435 acres, of which 330 have been planted. The balance area is the wind belt area, roads, buildings etc. The estate is located in a valley. There are strong winds most of the year, so nearly 90 acres of the estate has been left covered in jungle trees to act as a wind barrier.
Shade Trees: The estate is situated in dense forest which is rich in soil, fauna and flora. The main shade tree is the atti, which is the local name for fig, from which the estate gets its name. Other shade trees include the silver oak, Jack cedar and a variety of jungle trees specific to this location, each adding a distinct feature to the shade pattern of the estate.
Animals: The estate is in the Biligiri Rangan Temple wild life sanctuary. Wild animals like elephants, bison, bears, and sambhars are regularly seen on the estate, tigers are also spotted now and then. Birds like the black eagle and kestrel are regular visitors. The estate has also been declared a tiger reserve.
Temperature: Minimum 5 degrees, maximum 28 degrees Celsius
Average Rainfall: 65 inches – 75 inches
Varieties: Kents, S288, SLN 9, SLN 795, Catimor
Harvesting Period: Between December and March. The higher fields only start ripening in February.
Type of Harvesting: The ripe fruits are hand-picked by skilful local Sholigas. Three rounds of hand-picking are done, depending on the ripening. Each field is picked separately.
Methodology of processing: The picked coffee is pulped, fermented, washed and then sun-dried on elevated trays and on well-laid tiles, until the required moisture level is reached.
Social Welfare Measures: Human resources are considered an asset by the estate and hence every care is taken to ensure their well being. All the workers are provided with accommodation and free medical facilities on the estate.
Harvest Period: Nov-Mar 2011/2012