Batra was born to Ravi Batra, an army colonel and Neelam Batra, a former Miss India participant in 1971. She lived in Ludhiana with her extended family while she was young. While in school, she was an athlete and competed in the 200 and 400-meter dash.
She graduated in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune and holds an MBA in marketing from Symbiosis, Pune. She has two brothers. She became the third runners up at the Miss Asia Pacific in 1993, when she was 18 years old.
At a young age, she started modelling as a part-time job. She was best known for her Liril soap commercial. She was the first Indian face to launch and be a spokesperson for Head and Shoulders in India. As a model she has participated in over 250 events and ad campaigns. She shot to fame when she was crowned Miss India Asia-Pacific in 1993. She went on to become one of the top models in India. She walked the ramp for over 250 fashion shows in India and overseas. She is an ambassador for Parag Sarees.
Batra turned down many offers to complete her education before signing a contract with the Virasat Film Studio. The first film she signed was Virasat in 1997. She went on to work in over 20 films including Haseena Maan Jayegi, Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya and Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye. One of her films, Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story, a historical epic, was shown at the Cannes film festival in 2004. She is the life member of International Film And Television Club of Asian Academy of Film & Television, Noida.
Batra has also appeared in South Indian films including three Malayalam films and two Tamil films, including a cameo in the 1995 film Aasai.
Batra has acted in theater and toured North America, which got her considerable acclaim. She appeared at the 2009 Academy Awards in Los Angeles, where she reunited with her Virasat costar, Anil Kapoor.
Batra was married to orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Sonu S. Ahluwalia, in Los Angeles, California between 2002 and 2010. In January 2011, she filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.
Batra has volunteered time and money to charitable causes including AIDS (Mukti Foundation), homeless children, the Bombay Police Department and injured soldiers in the Kashmir war.
She did pro bono work in the film, My Little Devil (Bas Yari Rakho) subtitled in Hindi, English and French to raise funds for the poor children in India. The film was co-produced by NFDC-La Fete (Canada) and directed by Gopi Desai. The film was screened at the 24th Annual Montreal World Film Festival, 2000; Chicago International Children's Film Festival, 2000; 10th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival of World Cinema, 2001 and the Indian Film Festival in Malaysia, 2005.