Sixteen fire tenders on Sunday battled for four hours flames which at one point threatened the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
The fire began at a post office near the shrine around 2.30 a.m. Temple guards who spotted it on CCTV alerted the fire brigade.
The blaze soon spread to the Kerala archaeological department but was brought under control by around 7 a.m. No damage was caused to the temple, located barely 100 metres away.
The vaults of the temple are said to hold about Rs 1 lakh crore worth of jewellery.
Kerala Minister for Devasom Kadakampally Surendran said the postal department could have been more careful as lots of bags stacked with paper helped the fire to spread rapidly.
"The government will order a probe and take steps to see that such things do not happen," he said
(All photographs by Sreekesh Raveendran Nair)