The Essential Guide to the Indian Rupee

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If you are working abroad and want to send money home to India, or if you’re planning a trip there, you may need to turn your USD, CAD, euros, or pounds into Indian rupees.

To see the current rupee-to-dollar exchange rate, check out today’s rate with Remitly.

Indian Rupee

The Indian rupee (INR) is the official currency of India. The modern symbol for the rupee,  “₹,” was introduced in 2010. The rupee is subdivided into 100 paise. Indian Rupees are issued by the Reserve Bank of India, banknotes are printed by Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India, and coins are minted by the India Government Mint.

The Indian rupee is pegged to other currencies, such as the Bhutanese ngultrum and the Nepalese rupee.

  • Banknotes are printed in the following denominations: ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500, and ₹2,000 (all commonly used) and ₹1, ₹2, ₹5 (still in circulation but infrequently used).
  • Coins are minted in the following denominations: ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, and ₹10 (commonly used) and 50 paisa and ₹20 (infrequently used).

6 Interesting Facts About the Indian Rupee

1. Gandhi is currently printed on all rupee banknotes.

Rupees are frequently updated with new designs, and depictions of Mahatma Gandhi are a frequent feature on printed banknotes.

In 2016, alongside major monetary reforms, new rupee banknotes — all featuring Mahatma Gandhi — were introduced. The new bills were smaller in size than the previous versions.

2. Each rupee bill is a distinct color.

The new banknote designs introduced in 2016 came with distinct colors for each denomination.

  • ₹5 is green
  • ₹10 is brown
  • ₹20 is yellow
  • ₹50 is cyan
  • ₹100 is lavender
  • ₹200 is orange
  • ₹500 is gray
  • ₹2,000 is magenta

3. Rupee means “silver coin.”

The word rupee is derived from the Sanskrit word “rupyakam,” meaning “silver coin.”

Ancient India was one of the earliest issuers of coins as currency in the world. The earliest coins were made of silver and were of a standard weight, but they had irregular shapes and varied markings.

The modern rupee is a descendant of the rupiya issued by Sher Shah Suri in 1540, which remained in use during the Mughal period, Maratha period, and British colonization. Even when the British East India Company set up shop in India in the 1600s, Sher Shah’s silver rupiya remained popular. Despite many attempts by the British to introduce the sterling pound in India, the rupiya grew in popularity and was even exported as a currency to other British colonies.

4. Rupees are printed in 15 different languages.

On the front side of rupee banknotes, denominations are printed in Hindi and English. On the reverse side of rupee banknotes, denominations are printed in 15 different languages.

While Hindi and English may be the official languages used by the national government, the constitution recognizes 22 regional languages, with each state in India allowed to recognize its own official language. Rupee banknotes feature many of those languages.

5. Rupee banknotes have enhanced security features.

India is primarily a cash-based economy. This dependence on cash has resulted in fake currency being circulated by those involved in illegal activities. Typically, the higher denomination notes are the most counterfeited. Fake rupee banknotes are so common in India that many travel guides help tourists distinguish between real ones and counterfeits.

In 2016, the government announced that it would demonetize all ₹500 and ₹1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series to curb counterfeiting. Banknotes now undergo frequent redesigns and include enhanced security features such as watermarks, micro-lettering, intaglio printing, fluorescence, optically variable ink, and latent images.

6. Zimbabwe has used the Indian rupee as currency.

Zimbabwe began experiencing hyperinflation in 2007, leading to the drastic devaluation of its currency, the Zimbabwean dollar. At one point the government was printing bills in denominations as large as 50 billion. Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009. In its place, the government introduced a basket of foreign currencies that could be used as legal tender in the country. The Indian rupee was added to that list in 2014.

About India

Home to a population of more than 1.3 billion, India is both a country and a sub-continent occupying the greater part of South Asia. Its capital of New Delhi and its surrounding areas alone have a population exceeding 26 million.

India’s government is a constitutional republic that represents a highly diverse population. In fact, India is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. It is made up of thousands of ethnic groups speaking hundreds of languages. India is home to many religions and sects, with a majority of the population identifying as Hindu (80%). India also has a large population of Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs.

India’s people belong to innumerable castes and tribes, as well as more than a dozen major and hundreds of minor linguistic groups from several language families. The most commonly spoken language is Hindi, at 41%. Smaller percentages speak Bengal, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, and Malayalam, among others.

The population is largely rural, but India has seen drastic growth in recent decades. India has three of the most populous and cosmopolitan cities in the world: Mumbai (Bombay), Kolkata (Calcutta), and Delhi. Three other Indian cities—Bengaluru (Bangalore), Chennai (Madras), and Hyderabad—are among the world’s fastest-growing high-technology centers, and many major technology companies now have offices in India.

Indian Rupee

Sending Money to India

You can send money to India with Remitly. New customers may be eligible for a special offer on their first transfer.

Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, over 5 million people have used our secure mobile app to send money home with peace of mind. Visit the homepage, download our app, or check out our Help Center to get started.

Further Reading

Visit Remitly for more information on the most popular banks in India, how to safely send money back home to India, and how to celebrate various Indian holidays and celebrations while living abroad.