India Currency Exchange Guide

As the world’s second most populous country, India is home to a vast and diverse population with a rich culture and heritage. With so many people and so much to see, it’s no wonder India is a popular destination for travellers from all over the globe.

General India Currency Information

What is the currency of India?

The official currency in India is the Indian rupee (INR).

What do Indian notes & coins look like?

indian rolled notes

The notes and coins of the Indian currency are some of the most colourful and interesting in the world. The paper notes come in a variety of denominations, ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500, and ₹2,000 – each note commemorates and honours Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi’s image is on currency because he was an important political and spiritual leader in India during the country’s struggle for independence from British rule. He advocated nonviolent resistance as a means of protest and is considered one of the most influential figures in modern Indian history. As the face of the Indian independence movement, Gandhi is a highly revered figure in India, and his image on currency helps to reflect this.

Additionally, Gandhi’s status as a global icon for peace and justice makes him an appropriate choice for appearing on the currency. His image serves as a reminder of the importance of these values in India and worldwide. Ultimately, Gandhi’s face on currency helps to honour his legacy and promote his values of peace and justice.

indian notes and coins

As for the coins, they come in values of 50p, ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10, and ₹20. The new 2019 Grain Series of circulation coins, namely the new ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10 and ₹20, were introduced on the 6th of March 2019 and were designed with a number of more innovative features to make them easier for the visually impaired to utilise. From lowest to highest denominations, the coins increase in size and weight from ₹1 to ₹20. All denominations will be round in form except for the newest included coin of ₹20, which will be a 12-sided coin with no serrations.

Economy

The Indian economy is the fifth largest in the world, with a GDP of $2.651 trillion. India is also one of the fastest-growing economies, with a forecasted annual growth rate of 6% from 2022 to 2030. The country is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years.

Brief currency history

After defeating Humayun in the battles of Chausa in 1539, Sher Shah Sure introduced a new civic and military administration during his 5-year reign from 1540 to 1545 AD. During his regime, Sher Shah Suri created a silver coin known as the “Rupiya.” It was utilised throughout the Mughal period, Maratha rule, and even during British India’s occupation.

In medieval times, various local currencies were used throughout India. It wasn’t until 1835 that the British government introduced a unified currency system in an effort to simplify trade. The new silver coins displayed William IV on one side and the value in both English and Persian on the other.

Coins minted after 1840 featured Queen Victoria’s portrait. The first coinage circulated under her rule was issued in 1862, at which point she also became known as the Empress of India in 1877. British coinage continued circulating until 1947 when India became an independent nation.

Since then, the Reserve Bank of India has controlled the issuance of the currency. The most recent change was in 2020 when the currency stopped issuing 1,000 and instead began issuing 2,000 rupees notes. India is a country with a long and complex history, and its currency reflects that.

Taking Travel Money to India

india travel

What currency should I take to India?

If you’re travelling to India, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Indian rupees (INR) before you leave. Read our guide on exchanging AUD to INR here. 

Is it cheaper to convert currency in Australia or India?

There’s no definitive answer, as the currency exchange rate is constantly changing. However, it’s generally a good idea to exchange your money at home in Australia before you leave, as you’ll likely get a better rate than you would if you exchanged it in India.

How much money can I take to India?

Depending on the purpose of your trip, you may need to take a large amount of cash with you. There are no restrictions on how much money you can bring into India, but if you’re bringing in more than US$5,000 (or equivalent), you’ll need to declare it to customs.

Where to convert currency?

Crown Currency Exchange is the best way to convert your Australian dollar to Indian rupees. With over 20 years of experience, Crown offers great rates and excellent customer service. You can order your foreign currency in-store and get it on the spot with a fantastic Indian rupee exchange rate. Our stores are located in CanberraSydneyBrisbane, The Gold CoastAdelaideTasmaniaMelbourne & Perth.  

Is tipping customary in India? How Much is expected?

In India, tipping is not mandatory but appreciated. The average gratuity is typically 10% of the total bill and commensurates with the quality of service received.

Restaurants and hotels: It’s common for restaurants and hotels to add a service charge to the bill. If the eatery/hotel does not, tip approximately 10% for average service.

Guides and drivers: Giving guides and drivers a gratuity after trips is common. Usually, ₹200 to ₹350 (AUD $4–AUD $7) per day is sufficient.

Taxi and rickshaw drivers: Tipping is not necessary, but it’s always appreciated if you have a good experience.

Spas and Salons: Tipping is not necessary, although you may provide a little gratuity if you believe the service was exceptional.

Can you bargain in India?

Bargaining is a way of life in India, and you’ll find that haggling is expected in markets, shops and taxis. However, don’t bargain at department stores or hotels. Start by offering a lower price than what you’re willing to pay, and be prepared to walk away if you can’t get the price you want. Lastly, don’t forget to smile and have fun with it!

What is ATM access like in India?

Most of the ATMs in India are connected to the international MasterCard and Visa network, so you should be able to withdraw cash from your home bank account. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your bank before you leave, as some banks may charge fees for using foreign ATMs.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

In most cases, a visitor can survive on as little as AUD $23 per day in India. This is assuming you stay in cheap accommodation for under AUD $9 per night and eat only inexpensive local cuisine. You won’t have much money left for excursions, entrance fees, or domestic flights. You’ll have to take the bus or SL trains instead of the planes because there isn’t enough money for both.

Moderate

A mid-range budget while travelling in India would be AUD $70-$100 per person daily. With this amount, you’ll have access to double rooms as well as three meals a day (both restaurant food and home cooking). You will also have enough leftovers for transport via AC2 trains and excursions. This is considered a comfortable budget while living in India.

Luxury

In India, the luxury category will begin at around AUD $190 per day. This will get you into rather nice historic and boutique-style hotels. You’ll also be able to travel by AC2 and AC1 trains, enjoy expensive meals, and even take numerous internal flights. The sky is the limit when it comes to this budget!

Currency details

Currency:

Indian rupee

Currency code:

INR

Currency symbol:

Central bank:

Reserve Bank of India

Nickname:

Rupeyaa

Currency sub-unit:

Paisa = 1/100

Bank notes:

₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500, ₹2,000

Coins:

50p, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10, ₹20

Must-do's while you are in India

taj mahal

1. Visit the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, and it’s definitely a must-see while you’re in India. The mausoleum was built in memory of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It’s an incredible sight, and you can spend hours marvelling at the intricate details of the building.

tiger safari

2. Go on a tiger safari

India is home to some of the last remaining wild tigers in the world, and there are several tiger reserves that you can visit. One popular reserve is the Ranthambore National Park, where you can go on safari and try to spot a tiger in its natural habitat. Going on a tiger safari is an incredible experience, and you might even be lucky enough to see a tiger in the wild.

temples of Khajuraho

3. Explore the temples of Khajuraho

The temples of Khajuraho are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for a good reason. The temples are incredibly well-preserved and are a great example of ancient Indian architecture. Historical records show that most temples were built between 950 and 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty. Around the 12th century, historians note that there were 85 temples in total, but only about 25 have survived till today. Erotic sculptures are a dominant feature in many temples, making them even more unique.

Toy Train in Darjeeling

4. Take a ride on the Toy Train in Darjeeling

The Toy Train is a narrow-gauge railway that runs through the Himalayan foothills. The train ride is incredibly scenic and a great way to see the country. With a roughly 2-hour round trip from Darjeeling up to Ghum and back, it’s the perfect activity for a day trip. Not only is the train ride itself enjoyable, but you’ll also get to see some amazing views of the Himalayas.

Ajanta and Ellora Caves

5. See the Ajanta and Ellora Caves

As part of the 7 wonders of India and UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1983, Ajanta and Ellora Caves are must-see destinations in India. The Ajanta Caves are a set of 29 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments, while the Ellora Caves are a set of 34 Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cave temples. The caves evolved over a period of time, with the earliest ones dating back to the 2nd century BC until the 6th century AD. They are absolutely incredible, and you’ll be amazed at the intricate details of the sculptures and paintings.

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