The rupee in your pocket has a mysterious past. Behind Mahatma Gandhi’s smiling face lies a long history of struggle, exploration, and wealth that can be traced back to the ancient India of the 6th century BC. Let’s demystify this history by bringing you the interesting stories about how Indian currency has evolved over the ages into the rupee of today.

The word ‘rupee’ has been derived from the Sanskrit word rupyakam, meaning a silver coin. It owes its origin to rupiya, issued by Sher Shah Suri in 1540-45. Today, the Reserve Bank of India issues currency under the RBI Act 1934. ET traces the history of rupee from the British era to now.


1540 – 1545
Silver coin issued by Sher Shah Suri. It remained in use during the Mughal period, Maratha era and British India.

1770 – 1832
Earliest paper rupees issued by Bank of Hindostan (1770– 1832), General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773–75), and Bengal Bank (1784–91).

1st APRIL 1935
Reserve Bank of India is set up.


JAN 1938
First note of Rs 5 issued by the Reserve Bank .




FEB – JUN 1938
Rs 10, Rs 100, Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 issued

AUG 1940
Rs 1 note reintroduced. Rs 1 was first introduced on 30 Nov 1917, followed by Rs 2 and 8 annas, and was discontinued on 1 Jan 1926.


MAR 1943
Rs 2 introduced

IN 1950
First post-Independence coins issued in 1 piece, 1.2, one and two annas, 1.4, 1.2 and Rs 1 denominations.

IN 1953
Hindi was displayed prominently on the new notes, and plural of rupaya 1954 was decided to be rupiye.


IN 1954
High denomination notes of Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000, and Rs 10,000 reintroduced.

IN 1957
The rupee was decimalised and divided into 100 naye paise.

1957 – 1967
Aluminum one-, two-, three-, five- and ten-paise coins introduced.


IN 1967
Sizes of notes reduced due to the lean period of the early Sixties.

IN 1980
New notes issued with symbols of science & tech (Aryabhatta on Rs 2 note), progress (oil rig on Rs 1 and farm mechanization on Rs 5) and Indian art forms on Rs 20 and Rs 10 notes (Konark wheel, peacock).

OCT 1987
Rs 500 note introduced due to the growing economy and fall in purchasing power.

IN 1988
Stainless steel coins of 10, 25 and 50 paise introduced.



IN 1992
Rs 1 and Rs 5 coins in stainless steel introduced.

IN 1996
The Mahatma Gandhi series of notes issued, starting with Rs 10 and Rs 500 notes. This series has replaced all notes of the Lion capital series. A changed watermark windowed security thread, latent image and intaglio features for the visually handicapped were the new features.



New 50 paise, Rs 1, Rs 2 and Rs 5 stainless steel coins introduced.

IN 2009
The printing of Rs 5 notes (which had stopped earlier) resumed.

JULY 2010
New symbol ‘Rs ’ is officially adopted.

IN 2011
25 paise coin and all paise coins below it demonetised. New series of 50 paise coins and Rs 1, Rs 2, Rs 5 and Rs 10 notes with the new rupee symbol introduced.

IN 2012
New ‘Rs ’ sign is incorporated in notes of the Mahatma Gandhi series in denominations of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.

NOV 2016
Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes discontinued and new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes introduced.

When notes and coins were withdrawn in the past.

12 AUG 1946
Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 notes were demonetised to control black money.

IN 1954
High denomination notes of Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000, and Rs 10,000 reintroduced.

16 JAN 1978
Denominations higher than Rs 100 demonetised again to control the menace of black money.

1987 & 2000
While Rs 500 note was issued in 1987, the Rs 1,000 note was reintroduced in the year 2000.

IN 1995
Rs 1 and Rs 2 notes were removed from circulation.


IN 2011
25 paise and all paise coins below this denomination were withdrawn.

The Paper Currency Act of 1861 gave the British government the monopoly to issue notes in India.

The series comprised the first British India notes—Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 1,000. These were unified, carried two language panels and were printed on hand-moulded paper.

In 1867, the Victoria Portrait series, withdrawn due to forgeries, was replaced by this series. Initially, notes were legally encashable only in the Currency Circle in which they were issued, but in 1903-11, Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs 100 were universalised.

Paper currency of small denominations was started due to the first World War, with Rs 1 introduced on 30 November 1917.

This series carried the portrait of George V and was started in May 1923 with Rs 10 note and included Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500, Rs 1000, and Rs 10,000. This continued till 1935 when the Reserve Bank of India was set up.