During the Daniell's first tour which took them along the Ganges, they sailed past Benares and spent some time making numerous sketches and drawings from the river which were later used as the basis for fully worked up oils. On 4 December 1788, William recorded in his diary 'The general view of Benares from the Pinnacle was so very grand that I stayed on Board the whole day to draw it, fearing if we let slip the present opportunity that we might never see it in a better point of View' (M. Hardie and M. Clayton, Walker's Quarterly, 1932). The Daniells returned to Benares for a longer stay on their return voyage a year later (November-December).
Benares (now known as Varanasi) continues to be the religious capital of India and one of the most important places of pilgrimage and of ritual bathing. The Daniells depicted the Ghats in their Oriental Scenery and the accompanying text describes them as 'the most considerable of any of the Ganges.....vast multitudes of devotees..... to this city perform penance, and transact mercantile affairs. An opinion prevails amongst them that drawing the last breath at Coss (Benares) is a circumstance much in favour of their enjoyment of future happiness'