Indian Currency and Bank Notes


The official currency of the Republic of India is the Rupee. It gets its name from the region’s silver coin, which is called the rupiya, and was first issued by Sher Shah Suri, in 16th century. The currency is as old as the Indian civilization itself. The punch marked coins that you see today, some believe originated in 600 BC in what is now India.

Today the modern Indian Rupee is divided into 100 paise, with bank notes in denomination starting from 5. Here are some of the things that make the currency and its history so interesting.

  • Paper money in India was issued for the first time towards the end of the 18th Bank of Hindostan, General Bank in Bengal and Bengal Bank were the very first banks to make use of paper money.
  • The first set of bank notes issued by the Government of India had a Victorian portrait series etched on them. For security purposes these were cut in half, where one half was sent before by post, and then the second one was only sent once receipt was confirmed. In 1867 they were replaced by the Underprint notes.
  • The Reserve Bank of India had previously inaugurated in 1935, it had also empowered to issue Government of India notes. The first note that was issued was a 5 rupee note with King George the sixth’s picture on it.
  • It was not until India was independent that the one rupee note was printed.
  • In the history of RBI, the 10,000 rupees were the highest denomination. 10,000 rupees and 1,000 rupees were being used from 1938 to 1946. These were demonetized slowly.
  • In 1954 the government brought back the 10,000, 5000, and 1,000 rupees, and had them demonetized in 1978.
  • Denominations of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, and 25 paise were kept in circulation till 2011.
  • 50 paise coins are still used. These are not considered a part of rupee coins, and most people refer to them as the small coins.
  • In 1996 a Mahatma Gandhi series was brought about, what most people don’t know is that the same series got a security feature update in 2005 to set them apart from easy counterfeits.

The Indian Rupee Banknotes are designed and approved by the central government of India, with consultation from Reserve Bank of India. The note press that prints all bank notes is in Nashik and Dewas.

Security Features

The currents bank notes that is the Mahatma Gandhi series has several different security factors. This includes the watermark of Gandhi, the silver and green security thread infused in all notes. These strips have inscriptions in them too, like ‘Baharat’ and ‘RBI’, then there are latent images but only on bank notes of denomination 20 and higher. Other features include fluorescence, optically variable ink, EURion constellation, Intaglio, microlettering, and an identification mark to the left of the watermark.