The Essential Guide to Indian Currency: The Rupee

Last updated on August 14th, 2023 at 10:28 am

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The Indian rupee (INR) is the official currency of India. As one of the oldest and most famous currencies in the world, there’s a lot of fascinating history behind this modern money. Read on for more.

First, rupee basics.


The rupee is subdivided into 100 paise. Indian rupees are issued by the Reserve Bank of India.The modern currency symbol for the rupee (₹) was introduced in 2010.

The Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) currently issue the currency notes and coins in the following denominations:

  • Banknotes: Paper currency is commonly used in denominations of ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500, and ₹2,000. Banknotes in denominations of ₹1, ₹2, and ₹5 are rarely used but are still considered legal tender.
  • Coins: Coins are commonly used in denominations of ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, and ₹10. The 50 paise and ₹20 coins are rarely used but are still considered legal tender.

8 interesting facts about Indian currency

Man counting some Indian rupee bills

1. Gandhi is currently printed on all rupee banknotes.

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

In 2016, alongside major monetary reforms, the Indian government introduced new rupee banknotes, all featuring Mahatma Gandhi. 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:

  • The ₹5 is green.
  • The ₹10 is brown.
  • The ₹20 is yellow.
  • The ₹50 is cyan.
  • The ₹100 is lavender.
  • The ₹200 is orange.
  • The ₹500 is gray.
  • The ₹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 pound sterling 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.

7. Other currencies are pegged to the Indian rupee.

Other currency systems, like the Bhutanese ngultrum and the Nepalese rupee, are pegged to the Indian rupee, as the countries are located in close proximity and have strong trade relations.

8. India is embracing online payments.

A Mastercard New Payments Index survey revealed that 93% of people in India have used digital payment methods in the last year, and more users are willing to give it a chance in the coming months.

This is a huge shift in the way Indian currency is used, considering India was a cash-focused economy relying on banknotes and coinage for several years, even after online payments became popular.

People’s growing trust in technology and the increasing convenience of digital payments are some of the biggest reasons for more and more transactions happening online.

Where is Indian money printed?

According to the current monetary policy, banknotes are printed by the Government of India through the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd. (SPMCIL) as well as by the Reserve Bank of India (the central bank and regulatory body of India) through Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Ltd. (BRBNMPL).

Coins are minted by the SPMCIL located in the cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA).

Traveling to India

Millions of people visit India every year to experience the country’s fascinating way of life, its rich history, and culture. One of the largest countries by area and the second-most populous in the world, India has something different to offer for every kind of visitor. From snow and lush mountaintops in the north to tranquil beaches in the south, you can enjoy a wide variety of landscapes in a single country.

Whether you’re visiting for business or leisure, you get the best of both worlds. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore offer great work opportunities amidst a busy, fast-paced life, while the remote towns of Shimla and Rishikesh offer a peaceful life amidst nature.

If you’re ready to experience this for yourself, it can help to familiarize yourself with the local currency—the Indian rupee—first.

Indian currency conversion rate

Like the USD, GBP, and AUD, the exchange rate of the Indian rupee experiences fluctuations based on market volatility. That’s why the foreign exchange conversion rate varies, and we recommend using the Remitly currency converter to find the latest real-time value of one rupee based on current rupee exchange rates.

For example, you can see the current U.S. dollar to rupee exchange rate on Remitly’s website or in the app.

Sending money to India

If you send money home to India, you likely earn income in U.S. dollars (USD), Canadian dollars (CAD), euros (EUR), Australian dollars (AUD), or British pound sterling (GBP). When you send this income to yourself or as remittances to loved ones, Remitly can help.

Remitly is on a mission to make international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, millions of people have used Remitly to send money with peace of mind. Visit the homepagedownload our app, or check out our Help Center to get started.

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