GETTING THERE: Indian Airlines operates four flights a day from New Delhi to Srinagar. The fare is about $90 round trip.

WHERE TO STAY: At Butt's Clermont Houseboats (Hasarad Bal Road, Budh Dala Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir, phone 72325), rates range from $40 to $50 a day for two, including three meals. Shikara rides, trout fishing and transportation to and from town are extra.

Other houseboats are less expensive. Those rated "deluxe" -- the highest of five ratings -- are about $35 a day for two, and those rated "class A" -- the second highest rating -- are $25 a day.

Once you've arrived in Srinagar, you can get information about renting a houseboat from the Tourist Reception Centre just north of the Bund, a popular walk in the main part of town. But it is best to book ahead through an American travel agent.

On land, the best hotel in Srinagar is the Oberoi Palace. Rates are around $80 a day double, including all meals.

WHERE TO EAT: Guests usually eat on their houseboats, so there aren't many interesting restaurants in town. But wherever you eat, the food tends toward heavy Kashmiri meats -- mostly mutton -- and sauces.

In town, the best restaurant for good Kashmiri food is said to be Adhoo's, on the Bund.

READING: "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie, a novel about Indian independence, has beautiful, evocative descriptions of both Dal Lake and Kashmir. Parts of "The Raj Quartet" by Paul Scott also take place in Kashmir. One of the best and most detailed guidebooks about India in general is "India, a Travel Survival Kit" by Lonely Planet Publications. Lonely Planet also publishes a separate guide to Kashmir.

WHEN TO GO: The best months in Kashmir are May, June, September and early October.

INFORMATION: Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar, Kashmir 19001, phone 77303. For reservations: Manager, Reservations, J & K Tourist Development Corp., Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar, Kashmir 19001, phone 76107.