In this study, we present precise pressure–temperature (P–T) and age constraints of ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) metamorphism of the Bhandara–Balaghat granulite (BBG) domain at the southern margin of the Central Indian Tectonic Zone (CITZ). Supracrustal and metaigneous granulites of this domain, which lie as detached pods and lenses of various sizes within felsic gneiss–migmatite association record protracted high-T crustal anatexis events, broadly synchronous with and/or punctuated with felsic and mafic plutonism. Magnesian metagreywacke protolith of the supracrustal suite records extensive biotite melting and subsequent melt extractions at deep crustal, UHT metamorphic conditions (T ≥ ∼900°C at P∼8 kbar), producing restitic mineral assemblages of garnet + rutile, garnet + cordierite and garnet + aluminous orthopyroxene. The diversity of the mineral assemblages is related to the domainal-scale variation of the bulk rock composition. In situ chemical age dating of five monazite grains, which occur in the different textural settings of the garnet + cordierite + orthopyroxene + rutile-bearing granulite reveals two age domains: (1) Pervasive ∼1.6 Ga domain, which is recorded in monazites occurring as inclusions in garnet and in the leucosome matrix is correlated with the timing of the UHT metamorphism. (2) ∼1.47 Ga domain reflects a fluid-mediated recrystallization event leading to dissolution and re-precipitation of older monazite. The ∼1.6 Ga monazite chemical ages provide robust constraints on the timing of the earliest stage of tectonothermal processes in the CITZ (defined here as the ‘Central Indian Orogeny’). The significance of the ∼1.6 Ga hot orogenesis in interorogen correlation is discussed. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.