About twelve miles to the north of the Jeur railway station and about 82 miles from the Sholapur railway station, Karmala is the head-quarters of the taluka bearing the same name. The population, according to 1971 Census, was 14,051. This municipal town, being the head-quarters of a taluka, has the offices of the Mamlatdar and the Block Development Officer besides that of the Court of the Civil Judge, Junior Division. There is also a police station the jurisdiction of which extends over 96 villages. It has a post and telegraph office. The water-supply to the town is piped and protected. The town has been electrified. The educational facilities are provided by five primary schools conducted by the municipality, the Mahatma Gandhi Vidyalaya conducted by the Karmala Taluka Co-operative Education Society and Yashwantrao Chavan College of Arts and Commerce conducted by the Vidyavikas, Karmala. The Government basic training college is also located at Karmala. The Samaj Seva Mandal conducts the Annasaheb Jagtap Vidyalaya. A Government rest-house is also located at Karmala.
The town came to be known as Karmala after one Muhammedan maulavi named Karme-Maula who propagated the teaching of Islam when Karmala was under the Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmadnagar.
History: Though no early history of Karmala is available it definitely formed part of the Bahamani empire. After the disintegration of the Bahamani rule into five sultanates of Golkonda, Bijapur, Bidar, Ahmadnagar and Berar, Karmala formed a part of the sultanate of Ahmadnagar. However, the town came to limelight only at the beginning of the 18th century after it was conferred upon Rao Rambha Nimbalkar as jagir and after Rao Rambha settled at Karmala in 1727.
Rambhaji Nimbalkar was a Maratha general and a sardar at the
time of the cruel death of Chhatrapati Sambhaji at the hands of the Moghals in 1689. Taking the benefit of the uncertain conditions that prevailed in Maharashtra after the death of Chhatrapati Sambhaji and rift between Chhatrapati Shahu and Tarabai after the release of the former from the Moghal captivity, Rambhaji Nimbalkar following in the foot-steps of Chandrasen Jadhav, the son of Dhanaji Jadhav and once the commander-in-chief of Shahu, joined the Moghal camp at the beginning of the 18th century. In the battle of Purandar fought in the year 1707, Rambhaji Nimbalkar who had become a lieutenant of the Nizam-ul-mulk was instrumental in defeating Balaji Vishwanath and Haibatrao Nimbalkar. As a pleasing gesture, the Nizam-ul-mulk conferred upon Rambhaji Nimbalkar the title of Rao Rambha and a jagir in the province of Pune. Rao Rambha appointed one Baji Kadam to look after his jagir in the province of Pune. However, after a short while Balaji Vishwanath taking Baji Kadam into confidence made him change sides and brought the jagir of Rao Rambha in Pune province under his sway around 1720. Rao Rambha alongwith Chandrasen Jadhav assisted the Nizam-ul-mulk in the battle of Balapur fought in 1720.
It may here be stated that soon after Chhatrapati Shahu was released from the Moghal captivity in 1707, the Nizam-ul-mulk, shrewd as he was, with a view to pleasing Chhatrapati Shahu conferred upon him the jagir that was given to Rao Rambha, viz., Pune which formerly belonged to the Bhosle family and hence which was an ancestral right of Chhatrapati Shahu. At the same time the Nizam-ul-mulk conferred upon Rao Rambha a new jagir in Karmala and the present Karmala has developed from what was established by Rao Rambha in those days. The fort and the temple at Karmala and Madha were constructed by the Nimbalkars. After the defeat of the Nizam-ul-mulk Nizam Ali in the battle of Kharda in 1795 at the hands of the Marathas, Karmala came under the Maratha rule and subsequently under the British rule. In consequence, the Nizam-ul-mulk conferred upon the Nimbalkars a jagir at Bhum in Osmanabad district in Marathwada region under his sway. Rani Tararaje Nimbalkar of the same lineage was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly on behalf of the Congress in 1952.
Municipality: The municipality was established at Karmala in 1867 and is now governed under the Maharashtra Municipalities Act, 1965. It covers an area of 11.9 square miles. The municipal council is composed of 15 members with two seats being reserved for the scheduled castes.
Prior to 1902 only wells formed the main source of water-supply to the town. In 1902, attempts were made to store the water in four small tanks constructed for the purpose and was supplied to the town populace. In 1928 four bores were drilled and three more were drilled subsequently.
However, water shortage was always felt. The new Sina scheme was therefore taken up in 1960 from where the town now gets ample water-supply.
Underground drainage system has not been introduced in the town. There are stone-lined gutters. The municipality makes the arrangement for the removal of night-soil.
The municipality provides facilities for primary education and conducts five primary schools, two for boys and one for girls and one each for boys and girls with Urdu as a medium of instruction. The municipality also maintains a dispensary with four cots.
Many other facilities are provided by the municipality which has constructed a vegetable market known as Jagdamba Bhaji Market at a cost of Rs. 50.243. It was declared open on June 28, 1962. There are a number of dharmashalas in the town and the municipality undertakes the maintenance of the same. The municipality conducts a free reading room and a library.
Objects: Amongst the objects of interest in the town the one with historical importance is the ground fort constructed by Rao Rambha Nimbalkar when he shifted to Karmala in 1727 after the same was conferred upon him as jagir. Encircled by a surrounding wall, the fort has twenty-one bastions, the distance between the two bastions being 115 feet. The fort has two gates, one to the east and other to the west. The surrounding wall on the side of the municipal office was dismantled and a road was constructed there in 1948. In front of the entrance gate are the temples of Maruti, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha and another temple of Mahadeo with five faces. Mahashivaratra is celebrated at this temple every year. By the side of the temple of Mahadeo is another temple dedicated to Vishnu built in stone. To the back of the temple was once the residence of Rao Rambha Nimbalkar. This building is now utilised to house the civil court and irrigation offices. In the fort compound is also located a temple dedicated to Rama. The fort is encircled by a ditch.
Just on the outskirts of the town is the temple dedicated to the goddess Bhavani. It is a Hemadpanti structure extended and renovated by Rao Rambha Nimbalkar. The temple is over a slightly raised plateau to the east of the town. By both the sides of the goddess are placed the idols of Mahadeo and Ganapati and Vishnu and Lakshmi. In front is the homakund. The temple has an artistic spire. To the back of the homakund are three lamp posts (dipmals). From one of these dipmals could be had a bird's-eye-view of the surrounding area. Amongst the gopuras the one over the west gate is impressive. The bell in the sabhamandap of the temple is about 150 years old and an inscription over the bell mentions it to have been hung in Shake 1740.
An annual fair is held in honour of the goddess on Kartika Vadya Panchami (March-April). More than 5,000 people assemble at the time of the fair. The navratra utsava is also celebrated at the temple.
Near the temple is a big well with 96 steps. This octangular well is constructed in black stone. The well is about 80 feet in depth and in the past elephants were deployed to draw water by mots.
At a distance of about a furlong and a half from the temple of the goddess Bhavani is the temple dedicated to Khandoba. At the time of the Kartiki fair the god is taken out in procession. Similarly on Champa-shashthi day, the god Khandoba is taken out in palanquin procession to the temple of the goddess. On both these occasions the ceremonies are witnessed mostly by the local populace.
The temple of Ganapati has been constructed about 50 years ago. The Ganesh utsava is celebrated at the temple in the month of Bhadra-pada. A big immersion procession of the god Ganapati is taken out.