Assam Bengal Navigation (or ABN) is an Indo-British joint venture, with offices in Guwahati and the UK.
“A meeting of minds” best describes the first encounter between Andrew Brock and Ashish Phookan in Guwahati, Assam in 2001. Neither knew the other had been pondering how to initiate river cruising on the Brahmaputra river and both jumped at the chance to explore this exciting idea together. The Indo-British joint-venture company, Assam Bengal Navigation, was formed in 2002 by Andrew and Grania Brock and Ashish and Jahnabi Phookan, bringing together expertise in tourism, experience of global markets and in-depth knowledge of North East India.
In 2003, ABN pioneered long-distance river cruising in India with our unique cruises on the Brahmaputra river in Assam. Later, in 2007, we were also the first to run cruises on the River Hooghly (Lower Ganges) between Kolkata and Farakka. We were awarded the Indian National Tourism Award for Innovation for this pioneering venture. After two decades, and with four cruise ships and a houseboat, ABN is the most experienced operator on Indian rivers.
ABN also owns and operates the award-winning eco-safari lodge, Diphlu River Lodge, situated in a prime position on the periphery of the Kaziranga National Park. In 2016, we were proud to host HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at Diphlu River Lodge.
Chairman, Andrew Brock, first discovered his passion for India after Eton and Oxford University when he drove out to the North West Frontier on a travel scholarship. He joined one of the main UK tour operators to India and has run his own company, Andrew Brock Travel, from 1981 to 2009. He has Asian river navigation in his blood; his grandfather was a Director of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company while another forebear ran Dennys on the Clyde, which built many of the paddle steamers for the Brahmaputra and the Ganges.
Managing Director, Ashish Phookan’s background was in tea, with periods working in both London and Assam as a Tea Taster. He still retains an interest in a family tea garden. In 1989, he set up Jungle Travels India in Guwahati with his wife, Jahnabi, handling both incoming and outbound services to this little-visited region of India.