Steeped in history, India is a land where its cultural heritage remains close to the surface. Its neighbors include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. India is a land of wealth and incredible poverty. Literacy and malnutrition go hand-in-hand. The population and economy continue to grow. The former is strong in exporting software, jewelry, textiles and engineering products. The currency is the rupee. It trades as INR at the rate 100 paise equals 1 rupee.


The history of currency in India is a long and convoluted one. It involves going back to the 1st century B.C. The tribal state kings issued an early currency usually with Indian inscriptions, sometimes in Punjabi. Some combined native and Greek techniques; some preferred the Greek style. Yet, by the 5th century B.C., various sectors of India began to produce their own distinct coinage. Some still bore the influence of Greece, but most featured symbolic designs of the region including the elephant.

Roman coins did appear in India. In the 1st century A.D. Roman coins came in trading cities but not in the south. The Kushias, the Guptas, the Huns and the Turks all provided influences in Indian currency over the successive centuries. The Huns brought Iranian coins in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Islamic invasion in the 11th century and the Sultanate of Delhi in Northern India all provided coins for local and trade usage.
The Mughals in the 17th century had picture coins with poetry as part of the inscription. The Portuguese, French and Dutch, through their tradinh companies, brought their own coins with specific designs. The British East India Company had the strongest and longest lasting influence. They issued silver rupees in 1750.

Under British rule, coins began to make a regular appearance as part of the economy. The first banknotes and imperial coinage featuring Queen Victoria became common tender during the 19th century. Only after independence in the 1950s did India begin to produce a truly Indian currency. In 1950, the design featured the emblem of the Republic of India on the obverse and the Mauryan horse and bull designs on the reverse. By 1957.decimal coinage provided the simple equation of 100 paises equates 1 rupee.

Since then Indian coinage continues this rate. It also holds on to old coins and paper money long after they cease circulation. Today, the system consists of coins in 5 (rare), 10 (rare), 20 (rare), 25 and 50 paise as well as 1, 2 and 5 rupees. Banknotes circulate as (5), 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 rupees.

Obtaining Indian Rupees

There are banks and official exchange offices in places across India. Be sure to check out in advance the rates you will be receiving and the charges accompanying them. This is particularly true for ATMs. India has these money machines in most cities.

Protecting Your Currency

Crime is not a severe problem in India. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching are more prevalent. Simply be practical and do not leave your valuables lying around unprotected.

Using Your Indian Rupees

Use the rupee whenever and wherever possible. You can purchase some of the products for which India has gained a name. These include silver, semi precious and precious jewelry from such places as the various bazaars including Zaveri Bazaar at Munbai.  Buy pearls in Hydersbaid or traditional Indian folk art paintings in Bihai. There are also such things as bells and chimes, popular as gifts and souvenirs.

Travel Tips and Warnings


The highly populated country of India provides visitors with a chance to explore an ancient country. Cultural differences abound, as do venerable temples. Some people search for and find inner peace in the bustle and crowds.
For factual information and data, go to  For travel information see the Lonely Planet .     

Currency Summary

Current currency: rupee
100 paise equals 1 rupee
Coins: 5 (rare), 10 (rare), 20 (rare), 25 and 50 paise; 1, 2, 5 rupees