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19/07/2013 11:34 BST | Updated 18/09/2013 06:12 BST

Goa - Good for Travel Photography and Beach Vacations

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The Indian state of Goa has long been a popular holiday destination. Most tourists come to relax on beach but if you're keen on photography then there's plenty to keep you busy here.

If you're willing to stray from the local resort you'll soon realise that Goa's compact size lends itself well to excursions. There's much more here than just palm trees and pristine sands.

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The beaches, of course, have featured as backdrops in countless model portfolios. Goa is practically guaranteed sunshine, making it a popular location for shoots. The weather tends to be pleasant from the end of the monsoon, usually in late September, through to March, the beginning of the sweltering summer months.

Given the international renown of Goa's beaches, you might be surprised to learn that the state's shoreline measures just 97 kilometres. That means you never have too far to travel on a day trip.

The state's road network is decent and local buses provide a reliable service between the resorts and urban areas. They're a good means of exploring, especially if you're on a budget.

Motorbikes are also a cost-effective means of getting around. Hire companies operate in many resorts.

I found that people on bikes have the potential to make good photographic subject matter too. Look out for the groups touring on Enfield Bullets. Their brumming engines evoke the freedom of travel and spirit of being on the road. Photographs of them look particularly evocative during the golden hour.

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Hiring a four wheel drive vehicle is by far the most effective way of heading into the Western Ghats to enjoy the natural surroundings of the Bhagwan Mahveer Sanctuary. The Dudhsagar Falls are particularly impressive following the monsoon. Locals told me that photographers will be rewarded by stunning images until mid-December.

The white façades of churches caught my eye as I travelled around Goa. They are, of course, a legacy of the Portuguese occupation that lasted for four and a half centuries.

Their influence can also be seen in food, such as red chorizo-style Goan sausages, and the style of knee-length dress worn by many women in the state. Despite the evident Portuguese influence almost 70 per cent of the population is Hindu.

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Ponda is a good spot to view and photograph Goan Hindu style architecture. The Sri Mangesh and Mahalsa Marayani temples are the most significant in the state. Ponda also hosts the largest of Goa's mosques, the Shahouri Masjid.

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If you're into photographing churches and religious monuments then ensure a trip to Old Goa (Velha Goa) is on your itinerary. A local guide told me that, at its peak, the city was larger than London and Paris but slid into decline during the seventeenth century.

You can see and photograph a number of reminders of Old Goa's former significance. The Arch of the Viceroys was the traditional entry point for Portuguese officials. The Church of St Cajetan was inspired by St Peter's in Rome and the Se, St Catherine's Cathedral, is said to be bigger than any church in Portugal. Unfortunately, the use of tripods is not permitted inside of most of Old Goa's churches.

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Panaji became the capital in 1759 and is another city that warrants a day trip. The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the most obvious draw for photographers. For a splash of colour, head to the small but atmospheric St Thome quarter, also known as Fontainhas.

I'd recommend you pack a polarisation filter for your trip to Goa. It'll prove rewarding in this location renowned for blue skies. Use the filter to minimise the glare on rippling water and for deepening the colour of the sky. You can also use it to emphasise the contrast between the sky and the white facades of Goa's historic churches.

Be prepared to capture spectacular sunsets when you're photographing in Goa, as the state is on India's west coast so you can watch the sun sink into the Arabian Sea on a clear evening.

Goa offers far more than the just beautiful beaches and with your camera you can prove that to people back home.

Further Info

Find out more about travel in India on the Incredible India! website.

Read more of Stuart Forster's travel features on his go-eat-do.com, his personal blog.

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