Bar Headed goose,Anser Indicus.Locally named as Hans , Raj Hans…A winter migratory bird grey in colour with two prominent black bars accross its head.
In Hindu mythology and Kalidas story of Nala-Damayanti… Damayanti was the beautiful princess of Bidarbha and Nala was king of Nishada.Nala was an able king but unmarried. He came accross the painting of Damayanti and fell in love.Once Nala cought a beautiful bird.The bird pleaded for mercy and promissed to sing story of praises to Damayanti if he is spared.The king agreed.The bird went to Damayanti and told about Nala which attracted Damayanti towards Nala and finally they got married.Damayanti was so impressed with Nala that she rejected even God in a swayamvar and choose Nala as her husband.So the Bird carried the message of love from the Nishad kingdom to Bidarbha, while migrating over the mighty Himalayas.
Goose and Swan controversy:There is controversy if it was a swan or a goose which carries the message of love from Nala to Damayanti.In Rig Veda and other mythological documents and Kalidas literature it is the Swan which is refered as a Hansa.However Salim Ali at his Azad memorial lecture in 1979 told that in birds are identified by their calls ,plumage , beaks…most of these goose are called Hamsa in Sanskrit texts and Kalidas mentioned about the lake Manas or Manosaravar from where the gooose breeds and migrate..Dave in his explanation lists insatances where Hansa has been refered as Goose.In some other sanskrit literature, there is difference between Swan and Goose.Swan is Hamsa and Goose is Kadamb.
Barring all controversy, what important is ,the migration.The bar headed goose weighing about 3 kls with a comparatively larger wing span breeeds in upper Himalayas, Mangolia, Russia, Tibet the place of Manosaravar.In winter they migrate to Indian subcontinent through Himalayas.It is intresting to note that in stead of passing through the valleys at lower altitude,it prefers to cross the Himalay at it peak height.It requires lot of energy to create lift and also oxygen intake.And the bar headed goose has special abilities to counter these hardships.They have more arteries and special haemoglobin to carry more oxygen in blood.Equipped with all these specialities it crosses at the heights of 8000 ft and reaches to Indian subcontinent with message of love from King Nala on the way from the Nishad kingdom .The special haemoglobin can be a source of scientific reserch for high altitude sickness and heart ailments.
The bird of Hindu mythology spends it’s winter before returning back in mid March every year.Feeding on the seeds of grass lands during night, it congregates in large flocks in the mid of near by water bodies during daytime.One such place where it comes in large numbers is the Rusikulya river of Ganjam, Odisha.
Damayanti did not kill the messager of love.It listened to the bird and it’s praise for Nala, patiently to fall in love with King Nala.A classical example of message for conservation, in the Hindu Mythological texts and Rig Veda.
How to reach:Every year from Nov to March there is a large congregation of this mythological bird at Rusikulya river.Can be reached by road to river bank and then need to hire a boat.