Is a while since I was in India so memory not 100 percent, but I certainly recall taking INR before going with some limited back up foreign currency (e.g. GBP) for emergency use. I definitely used ATMs and had no issues, so would second the advice given.
Not sure where you are based in the UK, but as always shop around to get the best rate for any INR before you go. The smaller specialists can be very good on rates compared to chains e.g. Thomas Exchange who have a few sites in London - reminds me more of money exchangers in the Far East, and has served me well when needed.
Have fun and I hope you are travelling around a lot by train - was a great experience and generated many memories and interesting conversations when I was there.
We have spent six weeks in India for each of the last seven years. We used local ATMs with an N&P Visa Debit card that makes no charge for overseas transactions. These accounts are being discontinued and the best option I have found is Virgin Money who charge a flat £1.50 for an overseas ATM withdrawal. Earlier this year there was a bit of a panic as old 1000 and 500 rupee notes were withdrawn overnight but I think it has eased off now.
I also carried around £200 in Sterling each trip for emergencies but have never needed to use any of it.
Unless rules have changed very recently it is almost impossible to obtain rupees via a legitimate route in the UK. You might find more recent info on the IndiaMike forum.
INR aren't meant to be taken out of the country (it's technically illegal, though some small value notes do get out as souvenirs) so you may find it difficult to get them.
Take GBP, there is no point in paying two sets of commission/rate drop.
You will also *probably* find you can use a "hole in the wall" to draw out cash, if you shop around on pre-paid cards (Monzo is good as it's basically being subsidised by investors at present as it seeks to become a proper bank) you'll keep costs down. However, I would say in somewhere like India don't rely on this as your only money in case there are problems. Even at high cost, I'd suggest changing £100, or at least £50, to give you a start in case there are initial problems. If you only take £50, pay by card as often as you can.
That said the only place I've had issues getting money out of an ATM with a UK card is...Belgium!
Thank you for your answers, I asked due to being told I'm unable to get rupees in the UK I will take some English and use card when possible. I'm I best to get one of the cards suggested or will my HSBC debit card be okay?
One further piece of advice. Take more than one card. There is always the chance of a power cut. If that happens while your card is in the ATM, it's bye-bye card until you get back to the UK.
Where possible, use ATMs, where you don't have to put the card completely into the machine and that risk dissapears, but it may take a bit of time to be able to tell the difference between the two types. The simple way is that if the place looks like a straight card slot (like most in the UK), it will take your card into the machine, and is therefore a bit risky. If the place where you put the card looks like it sticks out so that half of the card remains visible, then you are unlikely to lose the card in the event of a power cut. Of course, be super careful to hide your PIN, you will find that people will sometimes stand very very close.
Indeed. I lost a card in Malaysia due to that kind of issue (brief power cut caused a reboot). Worked around it by paying a positive balance onto a credit card (avoiding interest costs) and drawing cash with that.
I do really recommend looking at Monzo, it's a prepaid card so you can control (via an app, so dead easy on wifi) what you put on it so fraud risk is low, and because they're propping it up with venture capital funding at present as it becomes a proper bank (which intends primarily to make money off personal overdrafts to start with) there are no fees and the rates are good. It's so good it basically killed the Travelex Supercard off. It also allows you to block the card really easily, and to enable/block magstripe cash withdrawals on the spot.
If you want two such cards "just in case" (though that plus a normal one would be fine) Starling Bank is near identical.