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History of the Indian Rupee

General Knowledge | 8-14 yrs | Animation, Video

Sher Shah Suri was the guy responsible for the Rupee. His version of 1 Re in 1540 AD weighed 11.5 grams of silver and was divided into 40 copper pieces or paisa.

By the time the British East India Company entered the market in the 1600s, Sher Shah’s silver rupee had already become the standard currency at least in name.

Despite many attempts to bring the Sterling Pound to India, the Rupee grew in popularity and was even exported as a currency to other British colonies.

And when the British government took over the Company territories after the 1857 revolt, the Rupee became the official currency of colonial India, with the head of King George VI featuring prominently on banknotes and coins.

In 1947, India became an independent nation. The currency kept its name but changed visually to account for the birth of this new nation.

The head of the king was replaced with India’s national symbol- the Ashoka lion pillar from Sarnath.


  • There are 4 mints that produce legal tender in India. They are in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Noida.
  • Indian banknotes are made of a balsam wood pulp. Cotton fibres are added to pulp to make it more durable than regular paper.
  • The whole note is then infused with gelatin to give it extra strength. Using watermark technology, an image of Mahatma Gandhi is imprinted onto the sheet during the paper making process.
  • Before the paper dries, a silver thread with holographic imagery is woven into it. The watermark and silver thread makes the notes very difficult to replicate.


  1. The Rupee symbol is a recent development in the history of Indian currency. Until 2009, the word rupee on a banknote was shortened to ‘Rs.’ to represent Indian currency. The Indian government held a competition for graphic designers to develop a symbol to represent the currency.
  2. The winning graphic was a symbol that looks like the Devanagiri ‘Ra’ as well as the English ‘R.’ The symbol was an instant success and soon became the standard representation of the rupee.
  3. MRPs and advertisements quickly took to using it and in January 2012 the government issued coinage and banknotes that featured the symbol.
  4. Pick a currency, any currency and try and find out how those banknotes are made. (For example, Australia’s currency is made from plastic instead of natural fibers)
  5. Banknotes have markers to ensure that they aren’t fake. Apart from the 2 markers mentioned in the article, can you find out what elements have to be in place for a note to be authentic?

For more such interesting General Knowledge articles and videos, visit: GK for Kids.