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OUR STORY

Assam Bengal Navigation (or ABN) is an Indo-British family-owned joint venture brought to you by the Phookans in India and the Brocks in England.

“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 responsible tourism, experience of global markets and in-depth knowledge of 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 in 2004-05. After two decades, and with four cruise ships and houseboats, ABN is the most experienced operator on India's greatest Himalayan 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, which was also the childhood home of Ashish Phookan. In 2016, we were proud to host HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at Diphlu River Lodge.

ABN Founders

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 wildlife travel and tea, with periods working in both London and Assam as a Tea Taster. He still retains an interest in his family's tea plantations and in tea broking and packaging. 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.

Jahnabi Phookan's passion lies in creating sustainable livelihoods for rural women and this was also her mandate when she served as National President for FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) women's wing, FLO.

Second generation

Antara Phookan has been a part of the ABN journey through ever dinner table conversation but has wholeheartedly joined in as Director of Business Development and Design after a decade of working in various capacities in France, Spain and UK in tourism and tech. She has completely redesigned ABN's ships and houseboats to reflect the vernacular aesthetic of Assam and Bengal, in conjunction with working closely with local artisans and materials.

Only as great a company as our team

We take immense pride in our team. From Nirmalya (Nemo) and Amit who oversee all operations and finances in every capacity, to Kunal and Bijoy who lead our cruises and lodges, ensuring that everything runs smoothly for our guests from around the world; from Raj, Amar, Bijita and Sobina who are always on call, and ready to craft your tailor-made itinerary, to all our dearest crew members who serve as the truest and best ambassadors of our ABN culture... we are thrilled to welcome you to discover our part of the world.

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