Shivaji, the legendary Maratha ruler was born on February 19, 1627. He was the founder of the Maratha Empire, an empire that spread its wings across the breadth of what is now called India. Shivaji was the main driving force behind uniting the Marathas against the Muslim rulers in India. There are many stories attributed to Shivaji, all of which feed on the legend of the Maratha superman from the 17th century. One such, and the most famous of them all, is how he was imprisoned by Aurangzeb and yet managed to make his escape in the baskets of fruits that were sent out regularly by him to the people. The Maratha Empire he set up enjoyed its heydays during his time, spanning a period of over 30 years. The Maratha Empire stretched from the west coast, from the north of Goa to as far as the Punjab in the north. What makes his Empire all the more significant was that it was established right under the noses of the Mughals, Aurangzeb being the ruler during that time. He was respectfully called Chhatrapati.