Govinda II had become unpopular among his subjects on account of his various misconducts as a ruler, including excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures. This according to the historian Kamath is evident from the Karhad plates of Krishna III. The Dhulia grant of 779 and Garugadahalli inscription of 782 proclaim Dhruva the emperor. Though some historians claim that Dhruva revolted and grabbed the throne, other historians feel the transition of the throne from Govinda II to Dhruva was peaceful and may have happened willingly.
He earned titles like Kalivallabha, Srivallabha, Dharavarsha, Maharajadhiraja and Parameshvara.
Dhruva Dharavarsha had a high political aspiration and he actively pursued the goal of expanding the frontiers of Rashtrakuta domination. In North India, he subjugated the might of the rulers of Kannauj.
In central India, he defeated the Vatsaraja of the Gurjara Prathihara Empire, and Dharmapala of the Pala Empire of Bengal (who was eager to rule Kannauj) in a battle in the Ganges - Yamuna doab. However, these great victories brought him no permanent land gains but only a lot of material gain and fame.
However another historian has claimed that Dhruva"s empire streatched from Ayodhya in the north to Rameshvaram in the south.
He also forced Pallava Nandivarman to accept the suzerainty of Rashtrakuta who paid him handsomely with many elephants. He undertook campaigns to Kanchi in 785 and again against the Western Ganga Dynasty in 788. During his reign, Rashtrakutas emerged as a true pan-India power, controlling large regions across the Indian subcontinent.