The Reserve Bank of India operates two interesting museums—one in Mumbai (The Monetary Museum) and the other in Kolkata (The RBI Museum). They deal with the history of money and monetary transactions.
But if you are particularly interested in knowing about Indian currency notes, you have to visit the privately run Rezwan Razack's Museum of Indian Paper Money in Bengaluru.
Inaugurated in 2020, it displays one of the finest collections of Indian paper money and related material from the Indian subcontinent, part of the personal collection of Rezwan Razack, co-founder of the Prestige Group and Managing Director of Prestige Estates Projects.
In 2012, Razack co-authored a book named "The Revised Standard Reference Guide to Indian Paper Money," which has since been called the Bible for Indian paper money. In 2017, he authored a second book, "One Rupee–One Hundred Years 1917-2017," to mark the 100th Anniversary of the issue of the One Rupee note in India. His collection of Indian paper money is supposed to be the most comprehensive in the world today. His private collection has been built over a period of 50 years, which also saw in-depth research and study on the subject.
“My journey into the hobby of collecting paper money started with the ‘CANCELLED’ stamped on some Reserve Bank of India banknotes that were kept in an iron safe at our ancestral home," he says. "This safe also had other old banknotes. Amongst them, there were a few Reserve Bank of India notes with the portrait of King George VI that were cancelled with a rubber stamp that read 'Pakistan Note Payment Refused.' I always used to wonder how Reserve Bank of India notes could be Pakistan money. My hobby got cemented in 1971 during my holidays in Coonoor when my cousin Sadiq Haroon gave me a reasonable collection of British India banknotes. After I returned to Bangalore, I pestered my grandfather to part with all the antique banknotes that had been demonetized. This, was the origin of my hobby.”
The completely climate-controlled museum has galleries thematically arranged. Inside you will find a vast collection of banknotes, currency and related material dating back to the 1800s, and with descriptive posters and captions.
Some of the unique displays include the Osmania Sicca Rupees, a series of notes issued by the princely state of Hyderabad during World War I when there was a shortage of silver; a series of notes issued in honour of King George V and King George VI of England during the British rule in India; uniface notes first issued in the Portuguese occupied territories of Goa, Daman & Diu and subsequently in Dadra and Nagar Haveli after the Anglo-Portuguese convention of 1880; notes issued by several joint-stock banks from the Bengal Presidency in the 18th century, which was followed by others; Indian notes used in Burma, Pakistan, etc.
Did you know that when World War II broke out in 1939, there was a severe shortage of metal, which forced many princely states of India to issue paper coupons to replace metal coins of low denominations? Some of these coupons were in circulation as late as 1946. There are displays chronicling the process of design, pattern, proof and trial that were carried out for printing currencies.
Address: Prestige Falcon Towers, no.19, Brunton Road, off M. G. Road, Bengaluru 560025. Website: indianpapermoneymuseum.com.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm; Tickets: There is an entry charge of Rs 100 per head. For large groups and school groups, you need to take prior permission.
Photography is strictly prohibited. There is a café and a souvenir shop.