Nepali Currency – Everything About Currency of Nepal With Forex Exchange Rate


New 1,000 rupee note from Nepal and the elephant controversy

The new 1,000 rupee note issued recently by the Nepal Rastra Bank (Central Bank of Nepal) does not stop polemics among the notafílicos, biologists and executives of the issuing entity.  All because of an elephant, according to one or the other.

The back of the new 1,000 rupee note issued by the Nepal Rastra Bank on 27 February, measuring 70 x 171 mm, predominantly gray-blue and printed by the German firm Giesecke & Devrient GMBH. The obverse reproduces Mount Everest and the temples of Swayambhunath and Harati in Kathmandu.

For its part, the reverse has the same image of previous issues: an Asian female elephant, according to the directors of the Nepalese banking entity.  This new issuance is similar to that of 2008, but with a different signature and the addition of the name of the Rastra Bank Nepal on the said reverse.

Habitually, the reverse of the Nepali banknotes reproduce images of animals (yaks, black turkeys, deer, Himalayan goats, tigers, single-horned rhinos, etc.). According to officials of the Central Bank of Nepal with the images of animals avoid religious controversies if they reproduced temples or prayer structures.

Whatever the reason, all the animal images printed on the banknotes are said to be from animals found in Nepal, except for one, which has even confused wildlife experts.  And that’s the image of an elephant printed on the back of the new 1,000-rupee bill that, according to experts, resembles an African, not Asian, elephant.

Banknotes with a denomination of 1,000 rupees were issued for the first time in December 1969, although the history of the circulation of banknotes in Nepal dates back to September 1945. At that time, those notes of 1,000 rupees.

They contained the image of a rural setting with Mount Annapurna in the backdrop. Then, in December 1974, the design was revised and the image of an elephant with long fangs was used.  Since then, 1,000 rupees bills are printed with the same image of an elephant.


For example, the head seems to be that of an Asian elephant, since it contains two humps on the top of the skull.  The upper part of the head of the African elephant, on the other hand, is more round, said Narendra Pradhan, an expert on elephants.

The appearance of the elephant in the image, especially its size, ears, and body, resembles those found in Africa, added Pradhan.  African elephants are larger and have larger ears, said Pradhan. In addition, the shoulder of the African elephant rises above the head, as in the image.

However, a wildlife expert working for World Wildlife Fund Nepal said it would not be a mistake to name that elephant on the bill as Asian.  Its ears are not as big as those of African elephants and the body resembles Asian elephants.

The Central Bank of Nepal is not aware of the source and origin of the image: “Many images were taken a long time ago.  We do not know who made them or where they were taken.  But they are definitely not works of art, “said the NRB official, adding:” We are planning to replace all the animal images with those found in Nepal. ”

If things go according to plan, the next 1,000 rupee note may contain an image of two twin baby elephants – along with their mother – who was born some time ago in the Chitwan National Park.

One thousand rupees – a bit too much for Nepal

Nepal is an ancient country. The first mentions in the chronicles of the events taking place in it refer to the VIII century before Christ. But the paper money was introduced in the Himalayan kingdom recently. Back in the 50s of our century, foreign expeditions, sent to the highest mountains of the planet, were forced to carry bags of metal coins to pay for travel expenses.

Today, Nepalese coins are rarely seen by tourists, and the indigenous people use them a little. The local currency, the rupee, is represented almost exclusively in banknotes in everyday life. They are issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees.

Information for collectors: coins, which with a special desire can still be found, are worth 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees, as well as 5, 10, 25 and 50 paise. Paisa is 1/100 rupee. Since there is nothing in the country that would cost less than 1 rupee, the payes are of no practical value.

At the same time, since Nepal is a poor country, with low wages and prices, 500 and 1000 rupee notes are not very convenient for living here. In small villages, there is no place to exchange them.

And in the capital, Kathmandu, petty traders, especially rickshaws and taxi drivers, find it difficult to give change from large bills. When traveling around Nepal, it is helpful to always carry with you an adequate supply of paper stuff.

In Nepal, it is easy to exchange most world currencies, including US dollars, Japanese yen, and European hard currencies. In addition, due to strong ties with India, Indian Rupee is also a kind of hard currency in Nepal. It should be noted that, due to the fear of fakes, many exchange institutions refuse to accept bills of $ 100 and 500 Indian rupees.

The exchange rate of the Nepalese rupee is rigidly pegged to the Indian at a ratio of 1.6 Nepalese rupees per 1 Indian. In relation to other world currencies, the Nepalese currency rate very slowly and smoothly decreases. The official rate is determined by the state-owned bank Nepal Rastra Bank and published in daily newspapers.

You can change money in Nepal through official or unofficial. The black currency market functions here so actively and openly that it should rather be called not “black”, but parallel or semi-legal.

The procedure of exchanging money in an official institution provides for the issuance of a client’s special personalized certificate (Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt). Then the tourist may need it in two cases.

First, the government commits many expensive hotels and service centers to charge foreigners with hard currency or rupees received in exchange for hard currency. Paying local money there, in theory, you should present a bank certificate for the appropriate amount. In practice, hotels do not always monitor compliance with this rule, cheap small hotels do not pay attention to it at all.


Another use of references is the reverse exchange of rupees for hard currency. This can be done only when departing from Kathmandu International Airport and in the amount of not more than 15% of that indicated in your references. At land border crossings, the reverse exchange is impossible, whether you have a certificate or not.

Exchange rates of commercial banks do not deviate much from the official. Nepali banks have only one day off – Saturday. On Friday, they work on a reduced schedule – from 10.00 to 12.00. On all other days (including Sunday) they are open from 10.00 to 14.00.

There are also official (licensed) exchange offices in Kathmandu and in some resorts. Their courses are practically the same as in banks, but the points work longer: usually from 9.00 to 19.00, many – 7 days a week.


And the unofficial exchange trades many private shops and stores. Deception and miscalculation there happens very and provided that you perform an illegal currency transaction not on the street, but indoors, you can hardly be afraid of reprisals by the police.

Money-changers give for US dollars about 10% more than the current banking rate. They also take other hard currencies, but at a rate that only slightly exceeds the bank.

Hotels and retail outlets in Kathmandu and Pokhara, the second most popular tourist destination in Nepal, accept credit card payments from major global systems. Outside these cities, you can only get cash in a bank with credit cards. Nepal Grindlays bank branches throughout the country issue Nepalese rupees with VISA and MasterCard cards for a 2% commission.

A tiny coin

The coin that circulated in Nepal since the mid-eighteenth century, specifically since 1740, is the Nepalese Jawa. It is considered according to the Guinness Book of Records the smallest coin in the world, with dimensions of two by two millimeters and a weight of just 0.010 grams.

The fact is that both this tiny coin, as the Mohar, and the dam disappeared in 1932. When the Nepali rupee, also known as mohru, became the official currency of the country, controlled by the Central Bank of Nepal.

Nepalese money recognized as one of the most beautiful in the world.

Three Nepalese banknotes and one coin this year hit the list of “the most beautiful currencies in the world”. The British newspaper The Telegraph on its website listed the 21 most beautiful currencies in the world, including three Nepalese banknotes – 500 rupees, 5 rupees, and 1 rupee, and one coin of 2 rupees.

According to The Telegraph, the uniqueness and use of animals is the main reason for including Nepalese money in the list of the most beautiful currencies.

About the 500 rupee bill, the newspaper writes: “Nepal boasts several excellent banknotes, including this one, wherein the smallest details two tigers are depicted.” In addition, about a bill of 5 rupees, it is reported that “here, too, are impressive animals – two yaks that play an important role in the Nepalese culture.”

“The simplicity of color attracts attention” – says about a 1 rupee banknote. A 2-rupee coin was noted for a unique appearance – “Man and a buffalo in the field – on this fancy coin from Nepal”.

Foreign currencies from the Czech Republic, Mexico, Egypt, France, Namibia, Samoa, Uganda, Bermuda, Maldives, Australia, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Burma, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand were also listed.

Interesting facts About Nepalese Rupees

⇒ The Nepalese rupee is rigidly pegged to the Indian currency in the ratio of 1.6 Nepalese rupees = 1 Indian rupee.

⇒ The name of the small currency of Nepal Paisa is also borrowed in India.

⇒ In the big cities of Nepal, it is possible to pay in US dollars.

⇒ The Nepalese numeral “10” in its appearance resembles the Arabic numeral “90”, which is clearly seen on the bill of 10 rupees.

⇒ Sometimes you can find a banknote of 1000 Nepalese rupees depicting the national flower of Nepal Rhododendron.

⇒ The fact is that a large batch of bills was issued with watermarks with a portrait of the king. But since the king was overthrown by this time, it was decided to print the image of a flower on top.

⇒ 500 Nepalese Rupee bill, recognized as one of the most beautiful bills in the world

⇒ Small coins in Nepal have official circulation, but they are not in active demand.

⇒ The notes issued during the reign of King Tribhuvan were not signed by bank governer but by a Kajanchi, who was high profiled Hindu priest.

⇒ Nepal is the only nation whose banknote was once signed by Hindu priest.

⇒ After the demolition of Monarchy, the Nepali government decided to remove the photo of the king from the next issuing banknotes. Initially, the government had thought to replace the photo of the king with Gautam Buddha and Sita, who are acknowledged as prominent figures of Buddhist and Hindu mythology respectively. But, followers of Buddhism didn’t like an idea of Nepal government. Therefore, an image of Mt Everest was used.

⇒ The Nepali banknotes of rupees 25 and 250 are very rarely used and to be seen bank notes. They are difficult to find nowadays. These banknotes were first issued during the regime of King Birendra on the occasion of his silver jubilee.

⇒ Nepal Rastriya Bank had issued 100, 500 and 1000 Nepali rupees with a characteristic feature which allows visually impaired people to recognize them easily. The newly issued banknotes have raised black dots, which visually impaired people can feel and recognize them easily.

They recognize it through the number of dots present in currency. 100 rupees notes have got 1 dot; 500 rupees notes have got 2 dots and 1000 rupees notes have got 3 dots. This was the first time that Nepali paper money has been designed for visually impaired people.


Jitendra Sahayogee

I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a writer of 12 Nepali literature books, film director of Maithili film & Nepali short movies, photographer, founder of the media house, designer of some websites and writer & editor of some blogs, has expert knowledge & experiences of Nepalese society, culture, tourist places, travels, business, literature, movies, festivals, celebrations.

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