Pala Dynasty: Rise, Rulers, Administration & Decline

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Pala Dynasty

Pala in Sanskrit means a protector. As this name was added after the name of every ruler the dynasty came to be known as the Palas or the Pala dynasty. The reign of the Pala Dynasty was from the 8th to the 12th century and the rulers were followers and strong supporters of Mahayana Buddhism. 

Rise of the Pala Empire

The Pala Empire came to power in 750 AD. It was founded by the great ruler Gopala. Gauda King Shashanka controlled the Bengal area after the death of the great ruler Harshwardhana. On the death of Shashanka, the area got into total lawlessness giving way for the Pala Dynasty to rise. The main areas under their control were Bihar and Bengal and the rest of the empire kept shrinking and expanding due to wars with Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas.

Source: World History Encyclopedia

Also Read: Rashrtrakutas Dynasty: Origin, Rulers, Administration & Decline

Who were the Important Rulers of Pala Dynasty?  

Here is a list of some of the most important rulers of the Pala Dynasty along with their achievements. 

Gopala (750 to 770 AD)

Was the founder, the first Pala king and the son of Vapyata, a warrior. Gopal was elected to power by the people. Furthermore, he was also Bengal’s first Buddhist king.

Dharmapala (770 to 810 AD)

He was the son and successor of Gopala who also expanded the Pala kingdom. He is known to be a pious Buddhist and also founded the Vikramshila University at Bhagalpur, Bihar. The Palas were the most powerful empire during his rule.

Devapala (810 to 850 AD)

A son of Dharmapala and a Rashtrakuta princess, Rannadevi. Devpala extended his father’s kingdom to Assam, Odisha and Kamarupa. Moreover, he built many monasteries and temples in the region of Magadha. He is also known as the defeater of the Rashtrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha.

Mahipala I (988 AD)

He recovered northern and eastern Bengal which was lost in war and also took Bihar. 


Rampala was the last strong king of the Pala Dynasty. During Kumarapala’s reign, who was his son, the entire kingdom disintegrated.

Madanapala (1144 to 1162 AD)

He was the ruler after which the Pala Dynasty declined and was replaced by the Sena Dynasty. Madanpala was also the 18th ruler of the Pala dynasty and in some ways also the last ruler. He was succeeded by Govindapala whose lineage of this name is questionable.

Also Read: The Nanda Empire: Rise, Reign, and Fall

Source: IAS Next

How was the Administration of Pala Empire?

The Palas built many Mahaviharas, stupas, chaityas, temples, and forts. The reign of Palas was also the golden era for Bengal. They also built Buddhist learning centres like the Nalanda University and the Vikramshila University. People also called the Pala rulers Parambhattaraka, Parameshwara, and Maharajadhiraja.

They granted lands to Brahmanas, priests and temples. These grants also helped in maintaining administrative law and order. Land grants were also given to Peasants. They had decentralised power and followed a federal system of governance. 

Also Read: Wahabi Movement

Legacy of the Pala Dynasty

  1. In the 12th century, Pala Empire was taken over by the Hindu Sena Dynasty.
  2. The period of the Pala Kingdom was referred to as the Golden Era in Bengali History.
  3. The people in the Pala Empire also bestowed land grants on Buddhist monasteries as they followed Buddhism.
  4. Various mesmerizing monasteries and temples such as Somapura Mahavihara or Odantapuri Monastery were built in Pala Dynasty.
  5. The Pala art (observed in Bengal and Bihar) influence is seen in the art of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma and Java.

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Who is the founder of Pala Dynasty?

Pala Dynasty was founded by Gopala in 750 AD. He was elected by the public due to his superior qualities to lead an empire.

Which states were under Pala Empire?

The Pala was located in Bengal and Eastern Bihar. Some of the major cities under the Pala Dynasty are Gauḍa, Vikramapura, Pāṭaliputra, Monghyr, Somapura, Ramavati (Varendra), Tāmralipta and Jaggadala.

Who defeated the Pala Kingdom?

The Pala Kingdom was defeated in the 12th century by the Hindu Sena dynasty.

That’s all about Pala Dynasty! If you want to know more about topics like this, then visit our general knowledge page! Alternatively, you can also read our blog on general knowledge for competitive exams!

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