The Palas controlled most of Bengal and Bihar. Little is known of the early Palas until the reign of Gopala in the 8th century.Gopala attained renown from the fact that he was not the hereditary king but was elected.Gopala established the Pala dynasty but it was his son Dharmpala who made it a force in north Indian politics. He ruled for 40 years and assumed imperial titles like Paramesvara-Paramabhataraka-Maharadhiraja and the Buddhist title Parama Saugata.He led a successful campaign against Kanauj. He was also a patron of learning and culture. As a Buddhist he founded the famous monastery of Vikramsila on the River Ganges near Bhagalpur.He was succeeded by his second son Devapala who is regarded as the most powerful Pala ruler. He not only maintained the territories inherited by him from his father but also added to them. Epigraphic records credit him with extensive conquests.
The Badal Pillar inscription states that he humbled the pride of Gurjara king the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan, the Huns and also the region of Utkala.Devpala was a great patron of Buddhism. He was succeeded by the weak rulers. It was under Mahapala that the Pala power was once again revived. Mahipala had domination which included Gaya,Patna and Muzzaffarpur.After his death the Pala power declined under his successors on account of internal dissentions and external invasions. The feudatory chiefs began to assert their independence. The authority of Palas was confined to only a portion of Bihar. The Palas were great patrons of art and literature. The Palas had close trade contacts and cultural links with South-East Asia which added greatly to the prosperity of the Pala Empire.