If successful, India will become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface. Only the former Soviet Union, the US and China have been able to do so.
The lift-off was broadcast live on TV and the space agency’s official social media accounts.
There was applause in the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) control room minutes after the launch, as the rocket took off towards the outer atmosphere.
For the first time in India’s space history, an interplanetary expedition is being led by two women – Muthaya Vanitha, the project director, and Ritu Karidhal, the mission director.
It is the most complex mission ever attempted by India’s space agency.
“It is the beginning of a historical journey of India towards the moon,” said Isro chief K Sivan in a speech after the launch.
He thanked and congratulated the nearly 1,000 scientists, engineers and other staff who had worked on the mission: “It is my duty to salute all the people who have done the work.”
What is this mission all about?
India’s first lunar mission in 2008 – Chandrayaan-1 – did not land on the lunar surface, but it carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the Moon using radars.
Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle 2) will try to land near the little-explored south pole of the Moon.
The mission will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things.
India is using its most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), in this mission. It weighs 640 tonnes (almost 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet) and, at 44 metres (144ft), is as high as a 14-storey building.