History of Indian Currency Notes

The history of Indian currency can be traced back to ancient times when cowrie shells were used as a medium of exchange. Later, silver and gold coins were introduced by various dynasties and empires such as the Mauryas, Guptas, and Mughals.

Indian Currency History

The new rupee symbol ‘ ‘, was officially adopted in 2010. It was derived from the combination of the Devanagari consonant “ra” and the Latin capital letter “R” without its vertical bar. The horizontal parallel lines at the top (with white space between them) are said to make an allusion to the India tricolour flag, The first series of coins with the new rupee symbol started circulating on 8 July 2011. It also symbolises the nation’s economic parity. Historically speaking, Chanakya, prime minister to the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta Maurya (c 340-290 BCE) in his Arthashastra, mentions gold coins as Suvarnarupa, silver coins as rupyarupa, copper coins as Tamrarupa and lead coins as Sisarupa.

New Currency BanknoteJan 2018Base Colour Year of IntroductionMotif (Image on the note)
10 63*123 Chocolate BrownJuly 2018Sun Temple
5066*135Fluorescent blueAug 2017Hampi wth chariot
10066*142LavenderHampi with chariot Rani Ki Vav
20066*146Bright YellowAug2017Sanchi Stupa
50066*150Stone greyNov 2016Red Fort
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Security Features (obverse: Front)

  1. Slanting black lines printed on the right and left edges of the banknotes
  2. Fluorescent Number Panel: It is printed in fluorescent ink and the optical fibres show up when placed under an ultra-violet lamp.
  3. Identification Mark: For the visually impaired few shapes are inscribed for various denominations i.e. 20: Vertical Rectangle, 50: Square 100: Triangle 500: Circle, and 2000: Diamond.
  4. INTAGLIO (to etch): For the blind people the RBI seal, guarantee and promise clause, and RBI government’s signature are printed.
  5. Latent Image: Aband shows the respective denominational value in numeral ₹2000, 500, 100, 50 and 20 notes. It is visible when the note is held horizontally at eye level.
  6. Micro lettering: It contains ‘RBI’ in 5 and 10. On 20 and above it contains the denominational value of the notes in micro letter. It is visible with a magnifying glass.
  7. Optical Variable Ink: It is the value in numeral printed with a colour-changing ink on 500 and 2,000 which appears green but turns blue when held at an angle.
  8. See-through Register: This will show up the number when the note is held against the light. A vertical band is placed there which has an accurate back-to-back registration.
  9. Security Thread: A readable, windowed security thread visible on the obverse with the inscriptions ‘Bharat’ (in Hindi) ‘2000’ and ‘RBI’. If held against the light, the security thread on 2000, 500 and 100 can be seen as one continuous line.
  10. Watermark: A light and shade effect of Mahatma Gandhi and multi-directional lines in the watermark window.

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Revers: back

  • Year of printing
  • Swach Bharat logo and slogan
  • A panel of 15 languages
  • The motif of currency.

Indian Currency Notes Down the Ages

1935: RBI formally inaugurated
1938: ₹5, ₹10, ₹100, ₹1,000, ₹10,000
1940: ₹1 reintroduced
1946: ₹1,000, ₹10,000 withdrawn.
1954: ₹1,000, ₹10,000 reintroduced & ₹5000 reintroduced
1978: ₹1000, 5000, 10000 withdrawn
1987: ₹500 introduced in Oct. 1998 (birth): ₹1,000 reintroduced.
2016: ₹1,000 withdrawn
2016: ₹2,000 introduced.
2017: ₹ 200 introduced
2018: ₹100 introduced

Indian Currency –

Banknotes in India are currently being issued in the denomination of ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500, and ₹2000. These notes are called banknotes as they are issued by the Reserve Bank of India. Currency paper is composed of cotton and cotton rag. The highest denomination note ever printed by the Reserve Bank of India was the ₹10000 note in 1938 and in 1954. These notes were demonetized in 1946 and in1978.

  • ” I promise to pay” Clause: As per section 26 of the RBI Act, 1934, the Bank is liable to pay the value of the banknote.

The Rules

  • The Gol specifies the denomination of bank notes and its value under sub-section (1) of section 24 of the RBI Act, 1934 and on the recommendation of the central board of directors of the RBI
  • Gol vide their Notification no. 2652 dated Nov 8, 2016, have withdrawn the Legal Tender status of ₹500, ₹1,000
  • There cannot be banknotes in denominations higher than ten thousand rupees in terms of the current provisions of the RBI Act, of 1934. Coins can be issued up to the denomination of ₹1000 in terms of the Coinage Act, 2011.
  • Printing and Circulation of forged notes are offences under Sections489A to 489E of the Indian Penal Code and are punishable in the courts of law by fine or imprisonment or both


The government of India has the sole right to mint coins and circulated them only through the Reserve Bank in terms of the RBI Act. Coins are minted at the four India Government Mints in Mumbai, Alipore (Kolkata), Saifabad(Hyderabad), Cherlapally (Hyderabad) and NOIDA (UP).

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History of Indian Currency

The history of Indian currency can be traced back to ancient times when cowrie shells were used as a medium of exchange. Later, silver and gold coins were introduced by various dynasties and empires such as the Mauryas, Guptas, and Mughals.

During British colonial rule, the Indian rupee was introduced in 1835 as a silver coin. In 1858, the control of India was transferred from the British East India Company to the British Crown and the Indian rupee became the official currency of India.

In 1927, the British government replaced the silver standard with the gold standard. The Indian rupee was pegged to the British pound at a rate of 1 pound = 13⅓ rupees.

After India gained independence in 1947, the Indian government established the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as the central bank of the country. In 1950, the Indian rupee was decimalized and divided into 100 naye paise (new paise).

In 1966, the government introduced the Mahatma Gandhi series of banknotes, which featured the image of Mahatma Gandhi on the front. In 1996, the RBI introduced polymer banknotes in denominations of 10 and 100 rupees.

In 2016, the Indian government demonetized 500 and 1000 rupee notes to curb black money and promote digital transactions. New 500 and 2000 rupee notes were introduced in their place.

Today, the Indian rupee is the official currency of India and is used by over 1.3 billion people. It is managed by the Reserve Bank of India and is one of the most widely traded currencies in the world.

First Currency in India

The first currency used in India was the “punch-marked coins,” which were in circulation during the 6th century BCE. These coins were made of silver and copper and had various symbols punched on them, representing their weight and value. Later, various other forms of currency such as gold coins, copper coins, and paper currency were introduced and used in India.

FAQs on History of Indian Currency Notes

Who designed the Indian Currency symbol?

The Indian currency symbol was designed by D. Udaya Kumar, a post-graduate in Design from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B). His design was selected from a competition held by the Ministry of Finance in 2009, which received over 3,000 entries. The symbol, which represents the Devanagari letter “Ra” and the Roman letter “R”, was adopted by the Indian government on 15 July 2010. The symbol is now used on Indian banknotes and coins, and is recognized worldwide as the symbol of the Indian rupee.

what is the material used in currency notes paper?

Currency paper is composed of cotton and cotton rag.

what is the name of Indian Currency?

The name of the currency used in India is the Indian Rupee (INR).

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